Mentors

UZAD1166 Adjusting to a new job no question takes time. Be that as it may, I am mindful of what I already have in my career and lucky enough to have two I could call mentors from journalism to contracts management. Jason, a former contracts manager at Interior Architects, imparted knowledge and the path forward to leverage in my current career. Rene was my first and only editor in journalism, who taught me to be a better writer. They are both highly-skilled, invariably men in their positions.

The women whom I can say are my mentors are really my peers, which speaks more to the lack of them at a higher level. And those in positions of power, I have observed, are merely surviving, dare I say scheming (although they may call it succeeding), in a stratosphere of male culture that rebuffs equally qualified women who would otherwise be at the table but refuse to play the game in a man’s world.

This month I was honored to have met as well as delight in the gastronomic offerings of Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Restaurant and “Top Chef” fame. She put together a meal featuring her soul food menu for the Macy’s Culinary Council during its Spring Flower Show. Her ability to transcend norms and create more of a life than simply a career resonates with me, and I peppered her with questions in exchanges during her cooking demo as we tucked into her dishes and imbibed in wine and spirit.

I identify with her eclectic background, having also grown up and educated in the East before moving west. She said she loves being her own boss, an entrepreneur who is also interested in empowering her community in the Bay Area and globally. She has a degree in Russian language and literature that later led to being a U.S. culinary ambassador to Kazakhstan for the Third Annual Culinary Diplomacy program in 2015.  While current public discourse has become polarizing, she said, food is instrumental in opening up dialogue and discovering commonalities when sharing a meal.

It’s comforting to know a role model like her exists when I am less than satisfied with how my career is progressing. She reminds me I have more agency over my life than I can imagine, and it keeps my eyes locked on the prize.

The Joy of New Beginnings

It was months ago last year in October to be exact that I wrote about eagerly anticipating my next move, and now I can happily say I have turned that page. I can’t say it was easy, but as I am told often, anything hard is more than likely worth it.

This was a no-brainer. There were no conflicts or fears on my end–just it was time to get out and be more me. So here I am with a new job and a freedom I don’t think I have ever known because I am so unequivocally joyful. I see it in wanting to watch my nephew play ball and being my own boss in whatever I choose to do. It is, as overused as this term might be, liberating once again and as ever a moment of gratitude and abundance–twin states of being I could only express in how I live and who I am.

 

Even-Keeled

Self-Portrait

A portrait composed by my coworkers on the whiteboard of my office.

I just thought it’s the perfect moment to plant a flag on something I’ve often wondered–whether my own plan would at some point coincide with reality. Office desk

Here it is–I have a job I’ve come to appreciate because it supports a life I love. By the same token, I approach my job situation in similar fashion as my personal life: It’s how I feel about the job not the company that’s primary. Therefore, it’s about my partner not marriage that’s foremost. I am hopeful on both fronts as I navigate my next move. 

On Golden Pond

IMG_5704

I am wrapping up a month-long sabbatical of self-reflection fitted in with two quick nature-filled trips to Tahoe and Point Reyes. At this point, I must first reference a New York Times article, “The Meaningfulness of Lives,” I alluded to six years ago. I want to do the things I used to love so passionately, like tennis, dancing and even writing (well, maybe not all at the same time) that seemed so superfluous when preoccupied with other stuff. I literally felt I couldn’t afford to invest in them because of self-preservation until I realize I couldn’t justify it anymore. My self-worth and a worthwhile life hang in the balance.
I’ve come to know that it’s not a matter of being morally superior or even over-the-moon happy. Rather, it is whether I am thoroughly engaging in something, and it may not always be so pleasant as I spent some of the month healing the wounds of past unfairness and indiscretions and confronting such basic impulses as the inability to relax and unplug. My sojourns to Tahoe, which I hadn’t visited in 17 years, and Point Reyes, where I had never been, put me in touch with some emotions I had ignored and wasn’t aware of–this was the time to push those to the surface and tackle them for as much as I could tolerate it, fully understanding they may crop up again. I am human after all.
As my friend Angela had eloquently chimed in when rain and later hail descended on the lake, “Sometimes rain is best because people scatter, and you can enjoy a moment of solitude in beautiful nature.” Driving in a canopy of firs, cruising on a riverboat from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay, hiking street level toward the edge of Lake Tahoe, my mind was empty in a Zen-like state I may have never known existed. It was that deep.
On the eve of a new job and chapter and the cusp of Autumn, my favorite season of the year when things come into fine focus, I am of this mindset: There will be parts of my journey that remind me it’s so much bigger than me; but I have an active role to carve out space and bring meaning to bear on my life that I promised will be one well lived. 

Some of My Favorite Things

Design in the Every Day: Reclaimed wood from wine barrels

Design in My Favorite Things: Reclaimed wood from wine barrels

Quite frankly, the month of August was about work as I made my foray to architectural writing: dIAmeter blog.  I cannot tell you the lengths I made to pull things together, but I believe in the end, it was well worth it to move to the next level of a rather wonderful life.

Architecture and Java: Like Blue Bottle Coffee

 

 

Doing Good

Time to Take Flight in the Second Half of 2015

Time to Take Flight in the Second Half of 2015 (in Lolo Cevicheria in the Mission)

I used to write often, but now other things have taken precedence, for instance, self-improvement and catching up financially after the Great Recession.  But it doesn’t mean I’m not fulfilling my purpose in my life.  I’m where I’m supposed to be, and for a change, it feels good.  It feels right.  Often connecting to this energy takes plenty of effort.  However, there are moments when it’s easy-peasy, when I’m in the right place at the right time.

I went to an art show early this month for the nonprofit Swords to Plowshares and bumped into my old boss, its executiveIMG_3374 director.  Meeting him after a few years was meaningful in a way I didn’t expect in the sense that I could and should perhaps think about giving some of my time to a good cause.  I’m not sure what that is just yet, however, I imagine there are a slew of them needing my skills and experience gratis.

So this is the mindset coming out of a moment that saw the Golden State Warriors pull out Game 4 in the NBA Finals and eventually win the title after 40 years.  As I separate from the first half of the year, new and interesting avenues are opening up for me to explore and once again move forward.

Uncorking the Year

D&G2

Since I passed my year anniversary at work last month, it’s time to focus on things that make me feel more like myself and organize my life around necessity and passion.  Lo and behold, my favorite local grocery, Canyon Market, had wine-tastings featuring some of my beloved winemakers, like Donkey & Goat and Crew Wines.

Wine broker Chris Scanlan and D&G winemaker Jared Brandt (right)

Wine broker Chris Scanlan and D&G winemaker Jared Brandt (right)

Donkey & Goat among others were characterized in a 2013 New York Times article by Eric Asimov as “a new wave of energetic winemakers” who “have been shaped by the same worldwide diversity of wines their audience,” looking “to the traditions of northeastern Italy, and the Jura, of Galicia and Sicily, of the Rhone Valley, Slovenia and many other lesser-known regions that make this moment so exciting for wine lovers.”

Matchbook wines come from Yolo County near Sacramento in Zamora, Calif.

Matchbook wines come from Yolo County near Sacramento in Zamora, Calif.

I’m drawn to them perhaps because they speak to me as someone with a myriad of experiences, who hasn’t had a linear path to reach this point as things are coming together–“the hourglass point between energy and matter,” to which self-help author Gary Zukav refers, “that is the seat of the soul.” Here’s to life. Cheers!