On Golden Pond

IMG_5704I 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.

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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!


Age of Enlightenment

DSC01882Moments of clarity have given way to moments of truth, and it is only fitting that the last quarter of the year should bring it.  Most of the year was spent adjusting to a new job and even the possibility of romance, but the overarching theme really is the spiritual angle, which has more than insinuated itself in my midlife.

I now make decisions based on whether they align with the person I desire to be. It feels like going through the fire, but I guess sometimes the only path forward is through. I’ve become more comfortable with the fact that the only thing I’m certain of is uncertainty. I’ve finally caught up to where I am, which is where I should be.

The Power of Negative Thinking

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive ThinkingI told myself once when I am properly ensconced in the right job that I would take steps to do more of the things I love.  But I realize nothing was really stopping me (with the exception of my finances), and I just needed to be in the right frame of mind.

Journalist Oliver Burkeman brought this front and center in his book “The Antidote:  Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” (excerpts of which could also be found in http://time.com).

It also reminded me of the 1995 movie “French Kiss,” in which Meg Ryan’s character managed to overcome her fear of flying with the help of the incorrigible Kevin Kline, to finally confront her scoundrel fiance (Timothy Hutton) and his hottie on a beach in Cannes:

“Well… Charlie, I’m going through some sort of transitional thing. See, after you called, I decided to get on a plane to Paris and get you back.

But there was no way everything I’d been building toward would be destroyed because some pouty little–this is before I knew you personally–bitch, wanted to steal a husband.

I bought the ticket, got on the plane and somehow made it over the ocean. Then an extraordinary thing happened.

Everything went wrong.

So I was wandering the streets of Paris, penniless, without a hope in the world.  And, let me tell you, you can do a lot of soul-searching in a time like that. I realized that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation.

And you can’t do it. There’s no home safe enough, no relationship secure enough.  You’re setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an incredibly boring time in the process.  Sorry, Charlie.”

Check the movie out for yourself: 

Paris in December

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

A year ago it was so difficult to allow myself to find joy around this time of year, but I look around and see it so much more clearly now.  As another song goes, love is all around.

I removed from storage a framed collage of photos of my Paris trip long ago and set it prominently on my shelf as a reminder of happy days–they are here again.  The pop songs never seem to end.

But I suppose what I’m trying to convey, at least to myself, is to keep things simple and light.  I know it’s easier said than done.  But when I push through a hardship, it’s important to focus on what is so good about being alive.

And then an interesting thing happened to me at the end of this year:  I landed a new job.  It was the Christmas gift I was waiting and hoping for.  In another moment of reflection, I remember a friend telling me to be sure I am running toward something as opposed to running away from a situation.  I’m happy to report it is the former.  Right now it does feel like Paris In December.