Loving your Past
For my first blog on loving yourself, I thought I would start from the beginning. More specifically, I mean in order to love yourself you must first come to terms with your past and even go as far as loving your past. While your past does not define who you are now, it is how you got here and therefore should be respected and loved. When I say past, it includes months or even weeks ago all the way back to your childhood (as far as you can remember at least, which for me is last week barely :P).
On April 7, 2017, I turned 30 years old. It was a wake up call that I must become the person I want to be for the rest of my life. This may seem a bit late for some, but that is part of what I am talking about. What is late for you may be early for others, so in other words this was just right for me.
In reflecting upon this, I decided one step would be to love who I am and therefore thank those that have got me here. The most important person I realized in this journey is my father, Glenn Bales. And we are almost exactly 30 years apart in age (he turned 61 in 2017), so this called for something special. I asked my close friend Sylvia Gunde to help me with a little project. My dad's most precious belongings are always pictures of me - he has them with him everywhere, from his desktop screensaver and shelves at work to every wall in my parents' home. He always bugs me for more and more photos, and if you know me this is not an easy request. I hate pictures of myself and hate even more taking pictures of myself. I am literally the anti-selfie...selfies were when I knew I no longer belonged in this world.
But I digress! If my dad wanted pictures, he would get pictures this time. But I wanted them done right. Sylvia and I came up with a photoshoot collection that would require months of work - traveling to several spots, gathering lots of resources and hours upon hours of editing (for Sylvia of course hahaha). The idea was to make a calendar of them, so 12 looks in all that represented pieces of myself that my dad has helped shape. Below are some of what we came up with and why I chose these looks (you can view all of them on my About page):
I love that I am from Los Angeles, a vibrant crazy city full of people from every kind of background and every kind of occupation all fighting for a chance to live a prosperous, happy life. This is one of the most famous spots in Los Angeles, the LACMA "Urban Light" by Chris Burden.
My dad made me the most studious, bookworm when I was a kid (this quality has kind of died now, I would rather play video games and watch movies). He always stressed that grades were the most important thing in the world, so I worked hard to stay on top of my studies and we did many trips here to the Los Angeles Public Library. This pushed me to be top of my class for most of my childhood, earn a Bachelors from UCI, and later earn a Masters from NU (first in my family to get a Masters).
Still to this day, my dad's favorite thing to do on a Sunday is walk along the beach. He still intends to retire along the beach someday, but I can't see him retiring. Haha!
I have many fond memories visiting my Chinese relatives in Chinatown, mainly because while they spoke Cantonese my dad and I would bond and go around town by ourselves. No I cannot speak Cantonese. Yes it is a shame. No I will probably not learn because it is ridiculously hard.
Being involved as a parent is very important, and I think dressing up as Indians for years as part of the YMCA's Indian Princesses program was as involved as a dad could be in his little girl's life. This is where I first learned archery and many other "useful" skills seen on the patches on my vest, like how to make friendship bracelets. Sylvia got to learn how to survive in the wild, build a fire, sail, and such. I think I got ripped off. -_-
Video games were (and still are) a huge part of my life, considering all kids have loads of free time and I had no siblings. My dad introduced me, starting with Pitfall on the Atari System. This was a favorite. Then of course we moved on to every system imaginable after that. Our all-time favorite to play together was Star Fox 64. Bags and bags of popcorn and cans of 7up were consumed on weekends and holidays as we played endlessly. This game also made me swear a lot, which is when my dad learned that I knew swear words, which is why the swear jar on the right was born. My favorite game to play with my best friend growing up, Tammy Cody, was Zelda: Ocarina of Time (we played all of them but this is a classic). My favorite game to date is Kingdom Hearts, and no I am not a happy fan right now (I will literally be too old to play by the time they finish this damn story).
Along with the video game theme, I grew up a huge nerd like my dad. I loved reading comic book after comic book and still love reading graphic novels today. Although I find myself going back to read old comics that have been transformed into graphic novels rather than reading new stories. His favorite is Ironman as he still has original comics he bought as a kid from the stands when they came out. My favorite story in every way is Batman, as my favorite villain is the Joker. The creativity and darkness that surrounds how they tell and retell his story through comics still amazes and intrigues me. As far as idolize, I love Dark Phoenix, but honestly I dislike most females in comics. I still feel they have not been told in a way I want them to or can relate to. If you have a recommendation, please share!
Self-defense was very important to my dad growing up. He took me to karate lessons, gun safety lessons, and connected me with military trainers on every form of weaponry and self-defense combat. He felt that if I was going to insist on taking care of myself, which I was very headstrong about thanks to him mind you, then he demanded that I know how to defend myself. I do not condone violence nor feel everyone should be armed, especially with so much wronged violence happening in our country right now, but I do feel people should be educated and have the knowledge to do what is best if the time comes.
The Simpsons was and still is my favorite cartoon on television, and my dad and I watched every episode growing up. He loves lovable Homer and I love intelligent Lisa. Thank goodness for Universal Studios Hollywood having Moe's Tavern on site with infamous pink doughnuts and Duff shirts. And thank goodness Sylvia is a master editor. No, we were not alone in this park.
My dad always felt it was important in life to have balance. Work hard and play hard. Part of that was finding time to explore hobbies and passions outside of work. For both of us, it is photography. I've had the extreme honor and pleasure of exploring this side a lot, including shooting extreme sports for articles online and being a food influencer for a little bit. This is one of my favorite spots, American Tea Room, in DTLA. Picture perfect spot, don't you think? And great tea.
Finally, my dad taught me how to be a friend, which I hope is a good thing to those reading this. Haha! I had my dad take these updated photos of me and my close friend of 25+ years Tammy Cody. He helped raise us as we were inseparable growing up, and we came to this neighborhood park by my house a lot. We would run around, practice soccer, hunt Easter eggs, do everything here!
After all the work was done, I had made the calendar and even a little memorable book (since calendars don't last forever), I realized that this project was bigger than a fun little thank you for my dad. It helped me realize that I do love myself for all that I have accomplished and done so far, and am excited to move forward with more adventures and exploring new journeys in my life to come.
This post may seem like a show-off, and I apologize if it comes off that way. It was not the intention. I purely want to share a piece of myself with those I care about (since they are probably the main ones reading this) and hopefully encourage others to reflect and find self-love.
Photo credits: Sylvia Gunde, check out her Instagram and her YouTube to see her awesome work! Thank you Sylvia for your incredible work in making me look half decent and for indulging me on this adventure!