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. 

Another Leg of the Journey

I don’t often have my days to myself so it’s nice to have at least this week to sit back and consider things so far.  It almost seems like a few months ago that I wrote about starting a new job, and comes September, it’s now a year. It was quite a mountain to climb because it was a learning curve only as steep as the workplace I’ve had to maneuver. And I declare I’ve come to a comfortable point.

I’ve said how seeing the forest from the trees magnifies the real estate I’ve covered that translates in the abundance given to me. And that’s where I find myself now–proud of where I am and how I got here.

I used to disabuse myself of expectations since they’ve proven to disappoint, however, I’ve learned course corrections and resets are always available when plans go awry, as they most often do.

A year does go by in a blink of an eye, so why not continue to believe in unicorns despite conventional wisdom. There’s nothing to lose but for the possibility of anything and everything, and that would be tragic, a failure of imagination.

The Zen in Food & Design

Pictures tell the story best how comforting food, art and architecture are in these even more chaotic days when what’s required is at times not so easy, that is, to embrace, if not rise above, uncertainty.   

Back to the Future

 

Three months after starting a new job, it is already quite an odyssey. I am in the other side of the bay, however, I am no stranger to Oakland, where I worked previously before being laid off in 2009. It is pretty much picking up where I left off when I thought I was forging a path forward with a nonprofit whose mission is to end homelessness.
Now I have reinvented myself this time in a contracts management role with an architectural firm. How funny my father can’t even keep up with my career–he tells people I’m now an architect, my journalism aspirations effectively upended.
If the last nine years have taught me anything, it’s openness, forgiveness, kindness and joy. The universe will often respond in kind, if I change the energy inside me away from frustration, anxiety and sorrow.
So here’s to another year, and this time taking things to the next level, playing more offense than defense, and, dare I say, believing in unicorns.

 

On Golden Pond

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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.