Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yule Season is Here

I am not an immensely religious person. Generally I follow a pagan philosophy, but I am not very moved by rituals.

I do feel a deep connection to the universe which I represent to myself as The Goddess, but I don't see how dancing naked in the forest makes it more real, or more personal. If it works for you, perfect, it's just not my thing.

As I read and learned about the Wiccan practice, I came across a text that spoke of the power of simply lighting a candle and using it as a focus to clear your mind, and visualize what you want to see happen. The idea being that if you focus all your energy on an outcome, and then take time to clear your mind and think it through, it might just happen.

That is my definition of magic in the spiritual sense of the word. It's also my definition of success when it comes to weight loss, to work, love... see? Forget the bunny coming out of the hat, what I consider to be magic is the power we have as humans to do extraordinary things just by using the resources we all have in ourselves. It's just a matter of focusing that energy all on one point, like a laser if you will.

My life has taken another big turn in 2009. We moved again, we're back in San Francisco, also I'm working regularly. It's a big change and I've been trying to keep everything together while trying to be everywhere at once. Hmmmm, so much for the focus, I needed to ground myself.

This year we brought back a little ritual that I like to do the morning after the longest night of the year. In the following morning, before the sun comes up, I light candles around the living room to welcome the Sun God and help him bring warmth back to the earth.

I've found 2 prayers in "A book of Pagan prayers" by Ceisiwr Serith, (p. 155-156), one for the Goddess, and one for the God, that I think really fits this time of the year.

"How is it that you give birth to everything, Lady,
never once growing infertile?
Even in the cold time, when everything seems dead,
each moment is born after its predecessor
and time goes on: you give birth even in the poverty of winter."

"Around me burn the lights of Yule;
I am filled with their light, renewed by their light.
I pray to you, new Sun, Reborn, O Lord, from the dark"

I hope this season of birth and renewal gives you the focus, the energy, the joy to enter 2010 with gusto, and that you find it to be a happy, successful year filled with love and warmth.

Happy Winter Holidays! Have the most wonderful year 2010!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What does it matter?

I’ve been watching a documentary about the science of gender tonight. It’s covering the different gender related issues that are much more common than one might think in the human race. Bottom line being that sexual identity is much more complex than boys and girls. No kidding.

I’m fascinated by the subject. I’m all girl, never doubted that fact. I grew up very much a “tomboy” with 2 brothers and a neighborhood full of boys, but never had any doubt about my gender and my sexual identity. I also have no doubt about my sexual preferences; I am heart and soul a heterosexual. Still I’m fascinated by the different ways humans define themselves and interact with the world.

The problem is that I always end up with the very same frustration: How can the people of this world be so small minded? Why is it still almost in 2010 such a bit moral issue to be homosexual? To be a transgender? Why would anyone care about who sleeps with whom? Who marries whom? Who has kids?

My Mom once said that she wouldn’t mind if one of her boys were gay, but that she would be sad knowing what he would have to live with. At first I thought that was a weird way to look at it. Now I think I know what she meant. It’s not about it being a bad thing, but it’s about having to live in a world that doesn’t quite get it yet. What the world is waiting for to catch up is beyond me.

I don’t care who you sleep with. I don’t. Whether you’re a politician, a friend of mine, my boss, my banker… I really don’t care.

If you’re a politician, a coworker, my banker, here’s my question: Are you competent at what you do? That’s all I care about. If you’re doing a good honest job, then I’m all good. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay, a cheater, or a model of monogamy, not my problem! I still smile when I think about the Lewinsky affair with Bill Clinton. Who cares? He’s the president, not my husband. If my husband cheats on me, then I’ll get into it, the President? Not my business, I’m sure Hilary can handle it.

If you are a friend of mine, a member of my family I have 2 questions: Are you a good honest friend? And more importantly: Are you happy? Is your relationship fulfilling mentally, emotionally, and physically? Yeah, then it’s all good by me. If not, we can go and have ice cream and bitch about life partners together. I’m good at that! ;op

Now the other thing that drives me insane: How does it make me less married if a gay couple gets married? I just simply don’t get it. I just don’t! My favorite excuse is “being married is to have children; gay people can’t procreate so there”. Ok, so my husband and I decided not to have kids. Maybe we shouldn’t be married?

What of gay/lesbian couple who decide to adopt? Then can they get married? What about heterosexual couples who can’t have kids and go through all those fertility treatments? Isn’t that “unnatural” too? Then they get 8-10 kids and get a TV show. That’s god’s will?

The whole thing completely confuses me. I don’t get how so many people have a say on who I sleep with, what I can do with my life, what I can do with my body. You don’t approve of abortion? Don’t have one. There you go. Yet those are the same people who are against the Health reform because it’s the government meddling in people’s life.

Maybe if everybody spent less time scrutinizing other people’s life and paid attention to their own life would be much easier for everybody. Maybe…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving!

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Marcel Proust

Today is Thanksgiving! Thousands of people will eat and drink themselves into insensibility, and gather funny stories (and tons of dishes) for the weeks to come. We are keeping a low profile ourselves. Just the two of us, after a few weeks of madness, we are just taking a day of R&R. No turkey in this place today!

I got to think a lot lately about Thanksgiving and what it really means. If you ask the average American, more often than not the answer you get is “it’s turkey day”, or “it’s all about the food!” It’s not called “Foodgiving” though, it’s called Thanksgiving. Thanks for the bounty for sure, but what else? What are you thankful for?

This morning we sat down and shared what we were thankful for. We did cover the usual but so important fact that both our families are happy, mostly healthy and that we still have those we love around us. They are far away, but they are always with us. This fall his mom visited us and it was the most beautiful thing to see her so happy to discover “our world”.

We have each others. After about 2 years of struggling to get our lives, and our finances under control, we have come out of it stronger, closer together. We could have drifted apart, that happens to too many couples, but we didn’t, we closed ranks. That “we’re in this together” attitude that we’ve had since we first got together is what keeps me, and him I’m sure, going when things get a little rough.

I’m grateful on the work front also, for both of us. My husband had a period where work was a little bit of a challenge. Things weren’t as exciting as he would have wanted them to be, and to be honest work was more a way to pay the bills than something he was looking forward to. This year is completely different. He’s excited with what he’s working on, he’s proud of his work and he’s feeling appreciated. The change is being reflected in everything he does. I’m not saying that there aren’t mornings when he’d rather sleep in, but it’s so wonderful to know that he’s happy at work again.

On my part it’s even better! After 2 years of struggling and feeling like I would never get anywhere, I’m finally making huge steps forward. For the first time in a long time I’m feeling competent and ready to face the world. I’ve got something to look ahead to, I’m working fairly consistently, and I’m busy enough that I don’t spend time on the couch wondering what the hell I should do now.

I have taken on more responsibilities, and I feel able to handle them. I am inspired, motivated, and I feel like finally I can do my little part to improve things around me. All that with still enough flexibility to do my thing, work out, cook, and do all those things that I love doing. What else can I ask for?

Finally I think that the one thing I’m most grateful for is our decision to move back to San Francisco. Things are moving here. I’m the kind of person who functions better under pressure. Here if you don’t keep up, you will be left behind in a hurry, that kind of environment suits me. In Sonoma County I could spend days without seeing anyone. If I wasn’t working, I had nowhere to go really. Here I’m always out and about, meeting new people, doing new things. If nothing else people watching is awesome in San Francisco. You never run out of weirdoes. AH!

We are healthy. After years of not taking very good care of ourselves we only had to straighten ourselves up and our body responded wonderfully. That in itself is huge. I am deeply grateful for that. More than anything though, I’m grateful for the fact that we are a little happier everyday. Life is good and I am grateful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Am I over it yet?

Last Thursday I went to work and then took off to go shopping at Tanforan in San Bruno. All day I went from freezing to being too hot and sweaty. I figured out early on that wearing my polyurethane jacket maybe wasn’t the best choice and tried to endure it.

Friday I had a scratchy throat. Oh no, not getting sick, I don’t have time, I have a week 2 tomorrow, a week 1 a health fair and a party. No time to get sick.

Saturday morning, you’d have thought I had been run over by a truck, then a train, then a plane… Awful.

Fast forward to Tuesday, I finally can get up and stand for more than 15 minutes without falling over. My husband calls from work, he’s coming home, he’s sick. Great, I can barely walk, and I’ve got to take over as caretaker. The truck (and the train, and the plane) got him now!

Friday I was able to drive to the beach, take the dog out so she could run. So I'm there, throwing a stick a few times she ran for it and dove at it as usual, but the last time she gave this really loud yelp. After that she just sat her leg in the air, absolutely refusing to move. I went to touch her leg and she kind of backed off without getting up.

All I could think about was that either she had torn something, or dislocated her hip. Either way, I was exhausted already, far away from the car and scared to death. I forced Grace up. She would limp without even flexing her paw, just letting it drag. Oh no, nerve damage...

I was almost in tears, but then she saw a puppy coming her way. She took off. She was limping a little, but barely... Thanks for the scare! I dropped her at home, went to the store and that was my day. I was worn off from this little activity.

Finally Saturday I was able to vacuum the floors, clean the windows, and cook dinner. Today I cooked again and cleaned some more. More importantly, today I felt like me again!

This morning I played some piano. The sun was shining, the sky was beautiful. My piano sits right by the window and I could watch the sky, the birds, and just get lost in my Christmas songs. I even let my husband listen to me a little!

Tomorrow I’m going back to work, I’m not 100%, but I’m good to go. I can’t remember the last time a flu hit me this hard. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move, I didn’t have the energy to even do the simplest things. Hopefully I’m done and over with it, but take my advice, don’t catch this one!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No but really?

I’m sitting at Starbuck, having a Mocha frap. light, enjoying myself before work. This woman walks in and asks for a sample of “Thanksgiving coffee”. The girl, very nicely, tells her that normally they don’t give out random samples without purchase. The woman explains that she wants to know what to buy for Thanksgiving and that she always buys her coffee here so she’s justified to ask for samples. The girl accepts but adds: “It’s the last time I can do it because it’s against our policy”. The woman gets very annoyed and takes her sample, and goes to add milk and whatever else to it.

The poor girl at the counter looked like she was about to cry so I got up, walked to her and said “Don’t feel bad, I’ve seen her do the same thing at Peet’s at least twice.” Her answer was “I know, she does it here every day. We were told to put a stop to it.” The woman was even told previously that it was not going to happen and yet she keeps coming.

The woman in questions is dressed very business-like, in expensive looking clothes. New looking clothes I might add. She doesn’t look like someone who’s in need of free coffee; she looks like she can absolutely afford it. Not only that, but when I could not afford Starbuck coffee (or Peet’s or whichever else), I did not have it. End of the story.

People like that angers me to no end. I’m all for getting a good deal, and “sticking it to the man”, but this is ridiculous. Some people feel entitled to take what they want and not pay for it. It’s everywhere: People abusing samples, people sneaking on MUNI or BART without paying, people “trying out” every gym in town to get the free trials and never actually joining any of them. Somebody is paying for that.

I saw on TV yesterday a story about squatters just simply moving in houses of people who had to move out because they couldn’t afford to stay. This poor dude was trying to do the right thing and sell his place. Because of the squatters, and the mess they left behind, he was unable to sell and had to go in foreclosure. How fucked up is that?

Who are those people? Where on earth have they learned that they are entitled to free stuff? Don’t give me that crap about “Oh, the economy...” It’s the same economy for EVERYONE. Times being hard means that it’s time to double the efforts; that you need to think things through a little more carefully and think up a plan to turn things around. It’s not a permit to just give up on common sense.

I might haggle to get a good price, I might try the samples that are out there, but I will not go to Costco simply to have lunch out of the samples. People do that! Where I’m from, there is one person who does that, go to the wedding for free food, show up anywhere there are samples. One person, everybody knows who she is, and she’s the laughing stock of the entire population of the archipelago. It certainly is not the norm.

Life costs money, it just does. The same way that losing weight takes efforts, education means studying, going to work means actually… *gasp* WORKING. Nothing is free and that’s just how it is. You can’t cheat your way through life. If you don’t suffer the consequences of it that means someone else will suffer them for you.

People make the assumption that being happy means living an effortless life. I couldn’t disagree more. I think that being happy means earning what you have, being busy with things that excite you, getting up in the morning with a purpose, and going to bed feeling like you accomplished something. That’s hard to do if you cheated your way through your day now isn’t it?

Friday, October 30, 2009

This work thing is kinda cool!

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.”
Benjamin E. Mays

Today is my day off. I did a bunch of paperwork, all the emailing and phone calls that I didn’t have time to do during the week, prepared my paperwork for next week. You know, a day off!

This afternoon I took Grace to Baker Beach. It had been quite a while and she was long overdue. It’s a beautiful thing to see her at the beach. She just runs on the sand, jumps in the water, chases her toy and other dogs, totally happy and free.

As I stood there I realized that I pretty much felt the same way. After a long period of being practically without work, I’m finally getting busy and it’s changing my whole outlook on things.

As I walked on the beach, I let my mind wander, I thought about my Mom and her elections for a while and about how beautiful the Marin Headlands were. I thought about my husband and his event he’s going to tomorrow, and about my groups and where I’m going with each of them.

I thought about the apartment and how I want to decorate it, and about whether or not I should buy a scooter. I thought about anything and everything without real focus, just enjoying the sun, the waves and the breeze.

Every once in a while I would stop to laugh at Grace, or to fetch her toy. You see she will chase the toy, but not bring it back. When she does, she drops it 25-30 steps behind me so that I have to backtrack and grab the thing to throw it again. I have a feeling that when she meets other dogs on the beach she goes something like: “How’s your human doing? Mine has been fetching all afternoon.” Oh well…

The point of all this is, I’ve been totally enjoying my day off. There is no anxiety, no guilt because for once in about 2 years, I feel like I deserved a day off. I’m tired from doing stuff rather than being tired from sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. I feel like I contributed to the world rather than living on the side track, watching it go by.

Sure the money part is great. I bought a dress, a neat cardigan and a new purse this week. More new stuff than I bought in the last 3 months, and I’m still not in the red! I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, it will take me a long time to recover from the last 2 years, and still the money isn’t even half of it. I’m just not built for unemployment. I’m happier when I’m busy, I function better under pressure.

This inactivity period has been hard on me. The more I sit around the more I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m a strong believer in the inertia law: A body which is moving tends to keep on moving; a body which is at rest tends to remain at rest.

Well I’m moving; I’m alive! Beware San Francisco, nothing’s stopping now! AH!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All in a dress

Yesterday I went to Oakland for work and got there a little early. The BART station is next to a Plaza where I used to shop when I first moved to the Bay Area so I roamed around, looking at the shops, noting which were still there, which were gone. As I turned a corner I found out that the Dress Barn store was still there. Hum, I do need work clothes…

I went in and didn’t find the tops I was looking for, but I did find a dress that I fell in love with. It’s all wrong for me, very geometric, horizontal stripes on my upper body, really not the dress for me. Still I tried it and lo and behold, loved it!

Today I decided to wear my new dress to work. I put it on, and somehow it didn’t seem to look as good as it did in the store. I was going to take it off, but decided against it. It didn’t look any different, my attitude was different. My insecurities were taking over. “I love the dress and I’m wearing it, so THERE!” I added a fitted jacket that I love, my favorite orange silk scarf, jewelry, make up, my cute little flat shoes, to be honest, I thought I was looking pretty darn good. That in itself is extremely rare.

So I got on the bus with my basket full of goodies and my faithful red wheeled luggage and found a safe seat that I could hold on to all the way to the end of the line. A few rows behind me there was a guy holding a long conversation with himself out loud, which I ignored at first. He was apparently courting somebody, and I didn’t want to turn around to see who the poor person was.

A few stops down, a group of young kids came on with several adults. The ranting guy’s monologue kept going sometimes getting rather crude, sometimes aggressive, sometimes singing John Lennon songs. The more he went on, the more the kids were moved to the front of the bus. It was crowded, the dude was loud, my gear was heavy, not a fun ride. People were giving me weird looks now and then, but I though it had to do with the basket full of goodies and ignored it.

Then we hit Stockton Street, China Town. Everybody got off the bus except me, the ranting dude and an older man who was sitting just in front of me. I heard the guy behind me move up until he sat right behind me. I finally realized why people were giving me looks; he was apparently talking to me. Great! He asked me out, asked me to go for dinner with him, asked me to marry him. It went on and on, the guy in front of me turned around so he could keep an eye on the whole thing. I got off at Montgomery and the crazy guy did too. He did not follow me however.

I got to the building where I was working, the security guard, who is always nice, greeted me with “You look stunning today”. Then I got upstairs and the first person I met said “Oh I love your scarf, actually your whole outfit is stunning”. Then the conversation kind went on about how cute it looked, and how a nice outfit can just make your day.

On the way home the bus driver (whom I see regularly since I take that line every day) looked at me and said “Oh, you look lovely today”.

I think I’m going to buy 4 more of that same dress and wear it every day!! AH!

I think that it’s true that making a little extra to look good can totally make your day. It’s not about having expensive clothes, or the latest in anything, I think it’s just about finding your own style and take one little extra step, a scarf, a pair of earrings you love, a comfy sweater… or a new dress!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It’s ok to disagree

My mother in law left today to go back home. I was very happy to see her of course, because of monetary considerations, and the cost of visiting my family all the way to East Canada, my husband tend to visit her without me and I tend to visit my family without him. My Mom visits us regularly but it was the first time my mother in law visited us.

I do care deeply for her, but I was also very nervous. You see, she is VERY Christian and I’m not. To her everything is about “the lord”, absolutely everything. For example if she is looking for her keys and finds them, the lord brought them to her. It is very important for her to follow the teaching of the bible, and she clearly expects her sons to share her faith.

During this trip she told me, several times, about one of her son’s ex (not my husband) who was a “Wicca” and about how she was so happy when the girl walked away to never come back. I had heard the story before, many times. At this point in my life I’m not really sure what I am. I lean strongly toward paganism. The philosophy suits me, the rituals not so much. I believe that all religions are different people’s representations of the same thing: The search of a connection to the driving force of life, of existence. I believe that all religions have the same value, that good is good, that bad is bad, and the difference shouldn’t be based on a book written hundreds of years ago.

So, religiously and politically I am miles away from her, so is my husband. He has never told her about his beliefs though (which are different than mine) and didn’t think it was worth telling her about mine. In his mind it would only hurt her and worry her, so it wasn’t worth it.

I agreed with him, but it did pose a problem: I am a horrible liar. Every time we visited with her I did my best not to get stuck alone with her. I knew that one day she would say something about “the lord” that would make me react before thinking. I did try to be discreet about it, but I have to admit I was avoiding her. Add to that the fact that I will not talk to her on the phone because I just can’t understand her and she can’t understand me…

When her husband passed away I realized that her faith was an anchor, a strength for her and for the first time I understood why sometimes it’s better to believe in something (no matter how wrong I think it is) than to stand alone. I got to know her a little more and to respect her a lot. She might seem frail, but she is stronger than she looks! We got closer every time we met.

So fast forward to this trip, she is coming here in our little apartment. There is nowhere for me to run to, nowhere to hide. I had made the decision before she got here that I would not hide. My “subversive books” about paganism, about, mythology and fairies and even a few erotic books are on the shelves for anybody to see. I didn’t go out of my way to point them out, but I refused to hide them. This is my place, my home, I will not hide here. If she saw them she never mentioned them, but I was very aware that most of them were right in the office where she kept her stuff.

The first part of the trip was very difficult for me. I had a job interview the day she came in and it didn’t go well, so I started stressed out right from the start. Everything we saw on TV seemed to put me on dangerous ground and I didn’t dare say anything about anything for fear of offending her. I took several deep breaths, and kept my mouth shut.

In the middle of her visit, my husband took her to visit a relative in Bakersfield leaving me at home. Finally alone, I slept in, did a few things, but mainly did a lot of thinking. I realized that I was the cause of my anxiety, not her. I was putting fences where there were none.

Earlier in the week we had seen something about homosexuals, I don’t remember what, but I remember her statement: “If one of my sons was gay, I would not stop loving him. I would be sad because the bible says it’s wrong, but I would not stop loving him.” At first that statement made me want to roll my eyes, but thinking about it, I realized that I had it all wrong. She wasn’t condemning homosexuals, on the contrary, she was saying that they were still worthy of love. I disagree with her religious beliefs, I disagree with the moral boundaries put forth by her religion, but I do love her, and I see that she is able to think beyond the book.

From then on, after they came back from Bakersfield, I dared give my opinion. The difference is that I worded it differently. On Dr Phil we saw a show about a woman who was trying to convert her Jewish husband to her Christian ways. Thinking it over, it wasn’t about the woman being a Christian; it was about her trying to force her husband to abandon his faith. That’s what I disagreed with, and that’s how I worded it. Wouldn’t you know it, she agreed!

We talked much more freely after that. The pressure was off, sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn’t but I took the time to word my points carefully, and respected the fact that her beliefs were different than mine, and we had a great weekend together!

I still didn’t sit her down to tell her about my faith, but it’s no longer because I’m afraid of her reaction, but rather because it’s irrelevant. I love her for who she is, and I do think she loves me for who I am. She might find out one day, and when it happens we’ll deal with it, but until then, I’ll be happy to disagree peacefully! ;op

On her way home today her plane got delayed to the point where she got to Kansas City after the last shuttle for Columbia had left. Thankfully we learned about it early on and my husband spent hours on the phone trying to find a solution. Finally I found the phone number of one of her neighbor who offered to go get her all the way to Kansas City. When my husband told his mom about it she said: “I knew the lord would find a way”… my husband couldn’t keep from noting “Well, I did.”

Its ok baby, “I” know you did all the work, deep down so does she… :o)

Of course when she called just now to say she was home finally she had to add “I’m sure happy that the lord told you to call my friend”… We did laugh, but respectfully. *grin*

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nighttime walk, we're taking over Seacliff!

Tonight Grace and I hit the pavement for our late night walk. Of course late night for us is 9:30pm or so, we go to bed early. It was a beautiful night for walking, crisp but not really cold. The night sky was clear and the moon and the stars were bright even with the surrounding city lights.

We kept a good pace the whole time. We have several route that we take depending on how long I want to walk, how windy it is, and if I want to sneak a peak in the rich people’s houses, or if I’d rather mix with the Geary street night life (or is it wild life?). My life is so exciting isn’t it?

Today I followed California Street to the corner of 32nd Avenue and then headed north toward the mansions of the Seacliff area. I walked to El Camino Del Mar, and then down to Seacliff all the way to 26th Avenue and then back up. It’s not a long walk, about 30 minutes, but more than half of it is close enough to the cliffs so that we can clearly hear the waves and get a few good looks at the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.

The first part of that walk is simple; the hope is that the dog will do her business before we run out of trash cans. You see, rich people don’t believe in trash cans apparently and I’m not into walking around with the deed. Anyway, Grace dutifully proceeded in due time and then we were off to enjoy our walk.

First we met an older woman who was walking a perfectly groomed Mini Schnauzer. The lady seemed intimidated by Grace so I told her not to worry, Grace is very friendly. Well, I guess her Schnauzer didn’t hear me because he blew a gasket at Grace, barking and growling and carrying on. Grace just stood there looking at him like “Dude, you’ve lost your mind” but he wouldn’t stop. As we walked past the little devil bit Grace a little on the behind! Grace turned around and bared her teeth growling. She can look scary when she wants to; the other dog decided suddenly that he had other things to do.

We returned to our walk me laughing to myself and Grace prancing proudly. She sure showed him!

As we turned on 32nd Avenue, I was looking in the houses, not so much as the people, but at the rooms themselves. If I’ve learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that sometimes it’s just not worth it to cage yourself up financially just to be able to say “it’s mine!” Those houses are worth a lot of money, even now, and honestly, they aren’t even that big, or that great. I’d rather rent an apartment and have someone to call if sometimes goes wrong thank you.

Tension on the leash shook me out of my reverie. Grace was staring at something ahead of us, another dog. I shortened the leash and reminded her to behave, but apparently it wasn’t necessary. The woman walking the other dog took one look at us and crossed the street to avoid us. I guess we looked scary or something. How weird! She did look scared too. Grace and I literally looked at each others, I shrugged and off we go.

The rest of the walk went on as usual, peak at Robin William’s house, will I see him again? Nope, no head sticking out tonight. His house is where several streets meet and the noise of the waves is very loud when to get to that point. Even Grace looked around like “there’s a beach close, can we go?”

We did meet a man who was walking two little cocker spaniels; cute little dogs and friendly too. We had a dog party for a few minutes and off we went running up the hill, one last lap around the block for a last call on doing the deeds, and inside we went for the night.

Every night it’s a dilemma: who’s walking the dog? Honestly I flake out of it very often. My husband is good enough to do it most nights. When I step up and do it though, I really enjoy it. We have a beautiful neighborhood and the walkways are large and generally in good condition, so it makes it all the more fun to walk around.

More than that though, every walk is like an adventure. Grace and I become great explorers roaming the neighborhood in the hope of discovering hidden treasures. We run, we tiptoe around, we chat (yes we do!), we dance around, we stop to look at the moon, we sit together on a bench and listen to the waves…

One night that we were dancing and running around a woman who was walking across the street told me “You know this is not that kind of a neighborhood”. I had to laugh, “You mean it’s not a neighborhood where we can play and be happy? Then it should be!”

Me n Grace are taking over Seacliff, if you don’t like it, move to Tiburon! Right? As I turn to her for confirmation, she's asleep beside me on the couch, her face smooshed in my hip, snoring loudly and her paws twitching. There she goes, off adventuring without me. AH!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fear isn't always that scary!

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” FDR

Today I was training my friend on the computer system that we will use from now on at Weight Watchers. After years of doing all the tallying by hand, we’ve got computers to do it. Finally!

My friend isn’t a computer user, as a matter of fact, she got scared when we were first trained this summer and chose to quit rather than having to learn how to use the system. I was convinced that she was perfectly able to do it, but… she still ended up quitting for a while, and then the launch was pushed back and she came back for a while. I was not about to let her quit again!

I think I took the right approach. Little by little I explained to her how easy it was to work with, and how I KNEW she was able to do it. Finally, she agreed to give it a try. So today was the day.

I didn’t want to overwhelm her, so I just got her started on the training program on the computer, and let her work her way through. I was there to help out, but didn’t hurry to do so. She would call out “I’m stuck again!” and then would add “Oh, I figured it out, all by myself!.” So much for being “not good enough to learn this kind of stuff.”

We have been working together for several years now, not only are we very good friends, but we’re also a heck of a team. I know that she loves working that meeting, and I love working it with her (I drive 40+ minutes early Sunday morning for 1 meeting!!!) but she would have quit on it because she was afraid to try something that obviously, she’s perfectly able to do.

There’s a lesson right there: Fear should not be enough to turn you around from something you really want to do. It’s a warning to be careful, to prepare, but if you fail to try because you’re scared, you’ll never do anything and you might end up losing important opportunities.

More than that, fear generates fear. If I didn’t dare try that computer program, maybe I shouldn’t think that I can learn this new language. Maybe I shouldn’t travel alone, maybe… Next thing you know you’re afraid of everything.

The opposite is true also, one courageous feat leads to another. If I was able to get myself through college successfully, maybe I can actually be brave enough to move to the States. If I managed to move across the continent, learn a new language, I’ll be darn if I can’t stop smoking! Pffft, if I could do THAT, then I bet I can lose weight and learn to take care of myself. Next thing you know, everything is possible!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fearless, nobody is. The people who seem brave aren’t fearless, they only faced their fear once, with great enough results that they decided to do it again, and again. Being brave isn’t about playing chicken with a train, or putting your hand in a campfire, it’s about deciding to give a computer program that intimidates you a try and working your way through it until it works. :o) Cheri rocks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's time to move on.

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive”
Alan Paton

This week the topic for the Weight Watchers meeting is “Emotional Eating”, how to deal with our emotions without turning to food. When I prepare a topic, I first turn inward and see how I relate to the matter at hand, and then I turn it back to the members. This one is always a little bit difficult for me. Sure I have come a long way, I no longer deal with my feelings with a Costco-sized bag of Cheetos every night, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit yet.

I spent years trying to numb myself by any means possible; acting like nothing could ever affect me. I was strong, invincible, untouchable no matter what life would throw my way it would not stop me. I would not even flinch! Of course that never last, sooner or later the system overloads and crashes. Like many before me, I crashed. Not a fun way to spend your time.

At that point my life took a sharp turn. The relationship I was in ended, a new one started, school finished and I moved from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. In the mist of all this I decided to take myself in hand physically and mentally. Shaping up physically is easy, eat right, move more, there you go! Mentally, well, it’s a little more complicated. I have passed many fences, but am I there yet?

I have learned that I don’t have to be strong all the time, that it’s OK to be sad, frustrated, and angry even. I discovered that owning those feelings and expressing them is not a show of weakness, but a step toward greater strength. I have seen that any weakness I have is just a sign of my humanity, not a proof that I’m worthless. I even managed to find strengths in me that surprised me.

I learned all that and yet something is missing. I’m not hiding from my emotions anymore, but how do I let them go? How can I look back and think about past relationship without a tear coming to my eye? How can I think of old mistakes and not feel angry and embarrassed all over again? How can I avoid having the past limit my future?

A friend of mine, Susan Barnes, is writing a blog called To Kiss A Mezuzah and today her post was about Confession and Forgiveness. It made me think: I admitted my wrongs, I faced off with my feelings, but did I ever forgive myself?

I learned to live with myself, I forgave those I felt had push me along on my path of self destruction, but I never stopped to forgive myself. Even now I’m reticent to do so. All sort of things come to mind and none of them sound very forgiving. Why should I forgive myself? I messed up; if I hadn’t been such an idiot I’d have a career by now, a PhD maybe. I missed so many opportunities just because I didn’t do the right thing, because I didn’t make the right choices. How dumb, my life could have been so much better… really? How so? What would I have then I don’t have now? What possibilities would be open to me that aren’t open now?

Thinking about it, not forgiving myself is taking the easy way out. It is giving me an excuse to fail. By hanging on to all that baggage, I’m permitting myself to flake and blame it on “my past”. My struggles are due to what happened then, not what I’m doing now… right? How convenient!

Ok, so where does that lead me? To this:

I accept my past, but I refuse to let it define me. I acknowledge it, but will no longer wear it as a badge, silent witness of my true self. It just isn’t me anymore. I did stupid things, I lived difficult times, but it’s all over and done with. I am not denying any of it, but I’m forgiving myself for it. It’s time to move on, seriously.

My, my… another fence!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's in the little things...

Do you ever feel like everything is going wrong? No really, everything? At this point I’m laughing!

None of this is earthshaking. I do truly and completely realize that all this is just pebbles in the sea and that we are both healthy, generally happy, and I’d take times like these over a loved one being sick, a death in the family or any other real catastrophe. Honestly I’m writing this because I think that at this point, it has reached parody proportions. I’d ask “What’s next?” but I’m afraid to actually get an answer to the question. LOL

I’m in a “shit happens” phase. It started Saturday. I decided to take Sunday off so that we could have a whole weekend together to just chill and have fun before my Mother in Law visits for 2 weeks.

Saturday morning we took off, all happy, ready for a big adventure in the Sunset District. When we got there, my husband realized that he didn’t have his wallet. We looked around, went back to the previous bus stop, went back home, no wallet. My husband spent hours contacting everybody but the UN, blocking cards, you get the picture.

In the mist of all that some work drama occurred (I’ll pass on this one), but all in all a rather stressful Saturday. Sunday went better; we went back to the Sunset and enjoyed our day.

Today I have one of those days in which I try to do all the stuff that I keep putting aside. First thing on the list was going to Whole Foods Market on the corner of California and Franklin Street.

I took 3 bus, one on the way there, and 2 on the way back. Every single one of them pulled off the stop just before I could get there, every single one of them. My last stop was at Walgreen on the corner of Spruce and California; there I bought a multiple vitamin, and a caramel. When I finally got into the last bus, some guy decided it was the perfect time to masturbate in public. Disgusted I moved to the back of the bus.

I decided to eat my caramel when I got off the bus on the corner here and the thing made me sick, awesome! I get in the apartment and to avoid walking on Leo I step aside and hit my toe on the door frame. That is the toe I hurt weeks ago and was just starting to feel better.

Now I’m sitting on the floor, can’t fall off the floor right? My laptop (the old one cause last Thursday I broke the new one, the second time I opened it) on the coffee table, the coffee far away from it, just in case. I am not moving from here until we leave to do the laundry tonight.

If there’s a laundry accident on the news tonight, you’ll know who it is. AH!

Friday, September 18, 2009

There are worst things than being alone

I’m trying to help out a friend who’s going through rough times. The conversation, in big part, has been about relationships lately, and how it is important to stand for who you are, and what you believe in. If you don’t look out for yourself, you might ultimately pay for it. Boy do I know that.

This has brought back memories of a time long past. Actually it’s not that long ago, but my life is so different now that it seems almost like a different life, not mine. Now I’m happily married, healthy mentally and physically. I lead a “normal life”, whatever that means.

Last night I had a dream about it, reliving that Friday night that changed my life so radically. At the time I was in college full time, working full time, and taking little jobs here and there to try and keep afloat. I was living with my boyfriend, who didn’t have a job, or anything else.

It had been a long day; morning in class, afternoon and evening at work, then a stop by the Baro (college bar) before heading home. At that point I wasn’t drinking much, 2-3 beers, just enough to debate some political issue that I didn’t care about. I love to debate though, so…

On my way home I stopped by the ATM to get money to go grocery shopping in the morning. At last I would have real groceries! There my world crashed: minus $3.73. Not only the $50 dollars I had was gone, I was in the red.

Then it dawned on me, he took my card this morning to get milk and bread for breakfast. Oh no! Not again! I got home, he was drunk, the fridge was empty, the milk was on the counter (since morning judging by the fact that it was warm), and the stack of bills on the half wall was huge. For the second time in my life, I completely lost it.

I was yelling, incoherently I’m sure, throwing dishes, the fact that I didn’t hit him isn’t for lack of trying, even drunk he was quite agile. This had happened once before, not too long before that night. The first time he had been too drunk to know or care about what was going on. Not this time.

“You are insane you know that?” he yelled at me “Completely insane. They should put you in a hug me jacket. I’ll tell them how insane you are, and they’ll see why my life is such a mess.”

Years of trying to help him, to encourage him, to get him sober, educated, motivated when everybody had pretty much given up on him came crashing down on me. Honestly I lost track of a good 10-15 minutes, I do not know what happened during that time. When I regained my senses, I was standing in the kitchen, breathing hard, a knife in my hands. He was nowhere to be seen.

I froze for a few seconds, afraid of what might have happened. Those were the longest seconds of my life, until I heard him pull a chair in the bedroom.

“Thank god I haven’t done anything to him YET.”

That “yet” haunted me for a long time. I dropped the knife, crashed on the floor and cried. I don’t know how long I sat there, but the sun was up when I finally got up and went back to my life. It would never be the same though…

I was terrified by what had happened, I kept hearing in my head “I haven’t done anything to him yet” and finishing the thought with “but it will happen”. Things had to change; I found something in me that I had never seen before and it frightened me. I was so alone. My family would never understand, I was too proud to talk to my friends. I did try to open up to some of my friends, but somehow I could never find the right words to explain what had happened, how bad things had gone. I closed up on myself, and decided to figure myself out.

My first move was to stop drinking. I was never a heavy drinker, more the sociable type, but at first it seemed to me that alcohol had made me lose control. I know better now, alcohol doesn’t make you crazy, it just remove your ability to hide it from everybody. Then slowly, one step at a time I rebuilt myself, and my life.

I look back now, years later, and I realize that he was not at fault, neither was I. We were just not meant to be together. In reality we were toxic for each others. It’s just sad that it took so long for us to realize it.

It was hard to break it up. No matter how much you know that it’s over, that things need to change, there’s always that doubt, that pain, that sense of defeat. You have to accept that what you thought was meant to be wasn’t. That the person you thought you knew turned out to be a dream, that reality is quite different. It’s a hit to your heart, to your pride, in our case to your wallet too.

I had known for over 2 years that this wasn’t going anywhere, and yet I was waiting. For what I don’t know, I guess I was waiting to hit “rock bottom”. To this day I wish I hadn’t, I wish I had been woman enough to just accept my loss and move on. I could have lived my life without going through that Friday night. Really.

There are far worst things than being alone.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A picture is worth 1000 words...

I took this picture in the Presidio, by Baker beach. It’s only a 5-10 minutes walk from out apartment. There are old Military installations, as there are in all the Presidio, and the beach is just below them.

Beyond the military installation, you can see a little bit of the Seacliff neighborhood. It’s the place where the rich and some of the famous, have a hideout in San Francisco. Robin Williams, Sharon Stone, we never see them, but we know they live close by. I like to say I live in the last row of poor people’s apartment before Seacliff. ;op

Then there is the fence. You have history in the Battery, you have the beauty of the cliffs, you have the richness and the fame of the mansions in the Seacliff and yet it’s all out of reach. There’s a fence in the way.

I look at that picture and I think: “Wow, there’s my whole life in one picture”.

I’m a positive kind of person, I know my worth, and though I can be pretty darn hard on myself, I have no doubt about my intelligence, or my abilities. There isn’t much I can’t do if I really give it a good try. Still, I wonder, what is blocking my way? Why am I not where I want to be right now? What is holding me back? Fences!

I have overcome a lot of those fences already. I walked around them, fought my way through them, or climbed them. I got scratches, scars, sometimes I got worn out, sometimes I had to stop, but I always found the strength to get through just one more fence. Unfortunately, there are many yet to climb. Do you ever feel like it never ends?

Life is work, sometimes we don’t even really know what we’re fighting against. Some people think it’s the devil, some people think they are fighting against themselves, some people don’t know what they are fighting against really, and they just keep on fighting.

Myself? I’m fighting fences! Some are so small I can just step over them, some are so high I need to think up a strategy, make a plan before I can even attempt to overcome them, but that’s all they are fences.

Somehow that thought is comforting, it’s nothing complicated, and it’s nothing out of this world. There is no devil trying to lead me astray, there are no aliens trying to manipulate me to do their biddings, there are just fences.

I learned my own worth, that was one fence. I learned to trust those I love, that was a huge fence. I learned that I was worth the effort it takes to live a healthy happy life… well, I’m still sort of climbing that one, but I’m close to the top. ;o)

Every time I pass a fence, I get a little more beauty, a little more richness in my life, a little more history. Each fence is a lesson, an adventure. That’s life is all about isn’t it? It’s work, but it’s worth it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

So it’s 9/11

I woke up this morning, like every other morning, with the local news. Only today, it’s 9/11. I remember the day the towers fell. I remember standing there, in the teacher’s room, confused almost dazed, watching the towers burn, and then fall. It was the fall before I moved to the US. One day after my application for a K1 visa had been sent in.

I remember trying to listen (the TV wasn’t receiving the channel very well) because they had said something about the Bay Area, but I didn’t know what. One thought on my mind: “Dan is probably on his way to work, maybe on the Golden Gate Bridge even. Could that be a target?”

Following 9/11 there was a dark period. Quite understandably, New York City, and the rest of the US were shaken by this. Fear, grief, anger were all part of the overall mood all across the states.

Still, through it all, a sense of unity, a will to help one another developed. It was impressive for an outsider to see how such a diverse and complicated country could come as one so solidly. Heroes showed up on that fateful day, but also after that, when the families needed answers, needed help, it seemed like there was a huge opportunity there to build from the ashes of the towers.

Well, the monument isn’t there yet 8 years later. Now, it seems that 9/11 has become a symbol of how politicians can turn absolutely anything to their advantages, and use tragic events to manipulate the population and the world:

“We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.” September 7, 2003

“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” September 20, 2001
George W. Bush, (

With that kind of attitude in mind, the horrible events have been used and abused and turned to ridicule. The unity quickly evaporated, and the sense of self seemingly left the US. One just have to look at what happened when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast to know that the government didn’t care much for the losses of the people, as long as they weren’t politically useful.

Every year, on 9/11, we had new speeches about how “our resolve will never fail” and how “we will defeat the enemies that wants us dead” and other such polically powerful but humanely meaningless statements.

Today I was very curious to hear what Barak Obama had to say. He also spoke of resolve, and of making sure that Americans are safe, of course:

“Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still," he said. "In pursuit of al-Qaida and its extremist allies, we will never falter." September 11, 2009

That’s not what I was hoping for though, that came later:

"We can summon once more that ordinary goodness of America, to serve our communities, to strengthen our country and to better our world,"

"Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love,"
Associated Press

That’s the side of America I have come to see and know in the last 7 years that I have lived here. When I go home and friends and relatives ask with a smirk “So, how is it to live with the Americans?” I try to explain to them, to tell them, the Americans are not what you see on the news.

There is more to Americans than “Let’s bomb the hell out of them!” there’s strength, ability for compassion, pride in who they are that has been hidden under the carpet of the war on terror.

9/11 could have been the perfect opportunity to show to the world that side of America. It didn’t happen, quite the contrary. Maybe it’s not too late though; maybe there is really a chance that a strong, solid, united and empowered America will rise out of the ashes of 9/11.

Then all that senseless suffering, grief, pain and anger can have some meaning.

Gosh darn it! I am more than food!

How's that for a start?

I have had several blogs in the past, a Bento blog which is not dead, just on break while I get reorganized. A travel blog that is also still around, but I just haven't traveled much lately Ah!

The ones that posed me problems are the recipe blog, and the Lifestyle blog, those two are pretty much dead in the water, here's why: There are way too many recipe blog. Most of the recipes I posted on mine were from other blogs anyway, so I didn't feel the need to keep going through the motion of copying them. I cook for the love of it, not as a profession, and didn't feel the need (or have the energy) to research and experiment so that a few who chose my blog over the 10 millions out there, could avoid 2 more clicks to get where I actually found it.

The lifestyle blog met a road block pretty fast. I'm a Weight Watchers leader. It's my job to talk about changing your lifestyle, how I've changed mine and how much of a greater life I have because of it, which is absolutely true. I love my job; I think we make a big difference in people's life. I just don't want to be working that job 24 hrs/day. If you want the great advantages of learning a new lifestyle, join Weight Watchers. That's the best, healthiest and easiest way to turn your life around weight-wise.

It just seems like the last 6-7 years, my life has been all about food. I learned how to cook, I spent hours and hours helping people change their relationship with food, I made cute lunch boxes, and I even helped teaching cooking to customers at Sur la Table.

Gosh darn it! (I'm channeling Sarah Palin here, sad, sad) I am more than food! I have other interests, and feel the need to air them out and discuss them.

So that is what this blog is about, all the thoughts, adventures, things and people that I come across that make me smile, make me cringe, make me think, simply put: Anything and everything that make me want to talk about it.

Are you afraid yet?

DISCLAIMER (can't believe I'm doing this sheesh): the point of this post is to make it clear that this blog has nothing to do with Weight Watchers, and/or my status as an employee there. It doesn't in ANY way reflect Weight Watchers position and/or opinion about anything, but is MY own little view of the world around me, of my own struggles, successes, frustrations and happiness with life in general and everything and everybody that crosses my path. It is MY blog written on MY own personal time.