August 30, 2009

Henna Tattoo

I spent (or is it really invested) the afternoon with my friend Rachel-Anne Palacios getting a henna tattoo. Rachel generously invited all her girlfriends over so that she could give us complimentary henna art. Beyond generous. Here's Rachel creating a tattoo as Melissa looks through pages of design options.

Excited to be living just minutes away from Rachel when I move to Oakland on Tuesday!She painted a flower on my calf.

August 29, 2009

Grooving with the Gals

Last night Hisun and I went dancing at Kitty's Bar in Emeryville, a small city located between Oakland and Berkeley - home to Pixar and Bayer. The scene was racially diverse - another benefit of the East Bay. Who knew there were fantastic dance clubs just around the corner? The scene was funky, hip and relaxed - far different from San Francisco which has a I'm-cool-don't-look-at-me-please-look-at-me vibe.

A group of us gals danced for three hours non-stop in the heat of the late San Francisco Bay Area summer. What fun to laugh, smile and go crazy with a bunch of women all in their late thirties, early forties. We took over that dance floor while the DJ encouraged us with 8o's dance tunes. Plus, we looked fantastic in our party frocks.

I felt so alive again. Dancing has always been something I've loved but rarely get to do. People gave me tons of compliments on my dancing style which made me feel even more confident. I sweated-out any last remnants of "yuck" I've been feeling for the past several weeks - a bit of a gross image but I was melting in the heat. This morning I have a fantastic feeling of calm. Even my face looks more relaxed.

There will be more dancing in my future as this place is minutes from my new apartment.

August 28, 2009

Funky iPhone Photos

You get some mighty funky iPhone images when you move the camera mid-shot.

Shredding Madness

In preparation for my move I am shredding tons of old checks from as far back as 1998. So interesting to see who how many checks I was writing in the pre-pay-online/debit-credit card age. Who are some of these people and business and why was I writing them so many checks? Obviously they were important to my life, back when I first moved to California, but now I can't even recall who they were.

Unfortunately I've clogged the shredder or it has overheated and I'm only about a quarter of the way done.

August 26, 2009

Me and Sam-a-liscious

This photo is of me and my nephew Sam, taken earlier in this month. We look like twins :-) It must be our matching birthdays, 40 years apart.

Achieving Compatability

I believe compatibility is possible. Sometimes it is easier to run than to embrace. Start by communicating, preferably in person - knowing that you have to take a chance to make it work.
Constructing walls should be reserved for remodeling old buildings that have so much potential for new beginnings, new partnerships. Communicate a shared vision, reach across the lot, grasp hands and start again.

August 25, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I've not even moved out of Alameda yet and already I'm missing the place. Tonight I promised myself an ice cream sundae from Tucker's and spontaneously called my friend Theron who lives down the street to see if he would join me. Ironically, he was thinking of calling me to do a Tucker's run. Serendipity.

We shared a frozen pizza and then trekked over to Tucker's. On our way we passed the Hob Nob, a divey restaurant/bar that I've never seen as hopping as it was this evening. An active singles social scene in Alameda? When we finally got to Tucker's and had our ice cream the owner treated us extra special nice. I'd never met the owner before. Where was all this neighborly action before I decided to move? Maybe I'm just coming out of my shell.

Mystery Box

The big move to the new apartment is next Tuesday. I have yet to start packing but really, how much do I have to pack in my current place? Most of the furniture belongs to my housemates and all of my furniture is being delivered by Door to Door on September 1st. I visited my stuff in storage this past weekend and immediately took four boxes of English Literature books to Good Will before I got re-attached to them. There appears to be about at least 50 more boxes in the storage container. What is all this stuff? Most of it is a surprise since Stephen sorted out all our belongings a few months ago in Houston. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what I have. Looks like he gave me his super cool stereo system. Major score.

Now to coordinate internet access. I would so very much like to be off the grid with that but it appears I need to install a DSL line.

August 23, 2009

Trusting Myself

Yesterday on my way to Yoga, my favorite time to walk and meditate, I had a realization. It was actually a conversation with myself (in my head, not out loud) that was life-changing.

I trust myself
I trust my intuition
I trust my choices
I trust my heart
I trust my physical and emotional strength
I trust my knowledge, skills and capabilities
I trust my flexibility, creativity and courage
I trust that I take care of myself and always land on my feet


August 21, 2009

Outrageous Hospital Fees

Goodness, I went to the emergency room earlier this month when I was in Connecticut and stepped on a nail. The bills are now up to $1600. All because my Kaiser insurance doesn't cover me out of network. Shocking costs for a tetanus shot.

Talking About Frida

Here I am at last night's closing reception of The Many Faces of Frida exhibition talking about my cool experiences with the Frida Kahlo Museum.

A portrait of me and curator Rachel-Anne Palacios who is my Frida inspiration!

August 20, 2009

Frida Inspires My Art

I am at the closing reception for The Many Faces of Frida exhibition in Oakland and had the opportunity to speak as an artist. People took me so seriously, and my art as well. One woman asked me "what is next for your art?" Good question. I need to be making more art. Felt is so tactile and I love to work with it. I am inspired to make more.

Ike's Yoga Debut

Check out me and Ike the Bike on Nancy's Yoga in the Middle Blog.

Big Step to Me-Space

Wonderful news! I've landed my own apartment and move in September 1st. This will be the first time I'm living alone since 2001 and I am thrilled to have made yet another positive, personal step forward. The place is beautiful and located in a funky, hip part of Oakland - and that isn't even code for up-and-coming, it has arrived.

Now to get my stuff out of storage and nestle into me-space. Just the thought of browsing my cookbooks and preparing a home-cooked meal is more than I can imagine. All that stuff in storage that I thought I wanted to push over a cliff has become so important to me.

Doors close and others were just waiting to open but needed the space.

Secret Wheels

I'll let you in on a secret - I'm driving a car and loving it. My former housemate Julie has lent me her VW Jetta for 10 days while she is back in CT. This car is so grounded, strong and wonderful (sounds like we're dating). The good news is I've been able to balance Ike the Bike riding with driving and public transit.

Community of Practice - Idea Realized

Over the past week I have been working with ten arts management consultants and coaches to launch our Community of Practice. What a tremendous group of folks. So positive and solution-focused. Today we launch our new site and behind the scenes we are launching a Wiki through which we will share best practices.

I'm blown away by our eagerness to collaborate, cooperate and create!

August 19, 2009

The Wisdom of Denita

Every other Wednesday I get very excited because our housekeeper Denita arrives. Yes, I'm thrilled that she will make our place sparkly clean, but I also love that she and I can chat about anything and everything. Denita tells it like it is. She cuts through the baloney and gets to the heart of the matter.

Today we've already hit topics such as owning vs leasing a car, managing your credit, men, apartments, people who defraud welfare, and kidnapping. She also likes to give me advice on the layout of my furniture and my nicknack's. Denita is filled with all kinds of practical, street smart wisdom.

August 17, 2009

Breath 12 Inches Out

Today in Nancy's yoga class she had us imagine that we were pulling our breath from 12 inches out in front of our forehead. As we exhaled we were to imagine that the breath was exiting to that same spot. With my eyes closed this gave me the most amazing sensation of my breath also connecting deep inside my center. Totally relaxing.

August 16, 2009

I Don't Know Why

Oakland has an annual downtown Art and Soul Festival featuring local arts, crafts and culture. There is always a Main Stage with some impressive headliners and this year it was musician Shawn Colvin. The crowd was mellow and orderly as she sang her twangy acoustic tunes. I laid on the grass in the sun under some beautiful trees, absorbing the lyrics.

Colvin wrote I Don't Know Why for her daughter, she told us, 17 years before she was born. The lyrics touched my heart, especially as I looked up at the layers of leaves catching the sunlight.

I don't know why
The sky is so blue
And I don't know why
I'm so in love with you
But if there were no music
Then I would not get through
I don't know why
I know these things, but I do

I don't know why
But somewhere dreams come true
And I don't know where
But there will be a place for you
And every time you look that way
I would lay down my life for you
I don't know why
I know these things, but I do

I don't know why
But some are going to make you cry
And I don't know how
But I will get you by, I will try
They're not trying to cause you pain
They're just afraid of loving you
I don't know why
I know these things, but I do

I don't know why
The trees grow so tall
And I don't know why
I don't know anything at all
But if there were no music
Then I would not get through
I don't know why
I know these things, but I do
I don't know why
I know these things, but I do

August 14, 2009

Wedding Dance

This is the most inspirational wedding party entrance I've seen other than the one we did at Matt and Rachel's wedding last year. It says so much about the relationship between the friends and the couple-to-be. Made my cry.

I found this on The Girl in the Cafe blog.

Biking for Leisure

Yesterday I took a morning and an evening bike ride, with Ike the Bike, along the beach in Alameda. A fantastic way to enjoy summer.

August 12, 2009

Massage Under the Apple Tree

Once again Dan gave me a massage under the apple tree in our back yard. Yes, I am so spoiled here in sunny, warm California. He found all the painful spots - many from my bike crash eight weeks ago. We both agree that my knee injury is healing beautifully, my bike tattoo.

Usually I like to zen out and feel the massage full-on but this time we chatted on and on about life, the universe and everything. Turns out Dan is also a 1969 baby. He couldn't believe I was 40 - like I'm well preserved despite my age. As soon as we discovered we are of the same Re-Gen-Xer year our conversation got so much "more real". In fact, he said it was the most spiritual conversation he's ever had with a client. Clearly, he's not reading this blog.

Dan and I agree that age is a state of mind and we live our lives guided by our creative spirits. His takes him skateboarding and mine takes me bike riding.

Adventures with Megan

Megan joined me yesterday in my apartment shopping spree. Here she is, modeling in the cutest little cottage in Oakland. Then we headed for dinner at La Pinata and she managed to order the world's largest burrito.

She's always a bit out of focus in these images because she poses, then gets silly and moves while I'm taking the shot.

Push on the Pain and Breath

My masseuse Dan finds the knots, gently pushes on them and asks me to breath into the spot. At first it is painful and then, magically, my body lets go and the knot is reduced in size - eventually it disappears. That's how I've been this past week. Instead of ignoring the myriad feelings of an unexpectedly ended relationship I sit with it, feel it, breath into the spot and now it is 80% relieved.

Good thing I have a massage scheduled today with Dan. Maybe he can help get that last 20% down to 10% or less.

August 10, 2009

Online Matching

Looking for apartments online is so similar to online dating. You see the photos, read the details and get a bit excited. You start to interact by email and you think this could work. You get excited about the first date...and then...whoa - not at all what you thought. Oompha.

August 9, 2009

Using My Voice

I've found my writing inspiration in blogger and cook Julie Powell and author, cook and teacher Julia Childs as depicted in the new film Julie and Julia. In the film Julie is played by Amy Adams and Julia by Meryl Streep - who was my inspiration last year at this time in Mama Mia (interesting that Meryl keeps touching my heart in these roles about women finding themselves.)

Julie is a blogger who finds her voice in cooking 542 of Julia's recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days. This was her attempt to set and complete a short term goal, and what a journey. She did it! Julia, also adrift in her career, when she moved to Paris with her husband, (sounds like me in London) turns to cooking for her focus. As we all know, she did it too!

Note to self: I've found my voice in writing - writing that made me burst into tears. How powerful to recognize I have a voice and I'm using it. Now to follow my own lesson and go deep.

August 8, 2009

Go Deep

The advice I give my strategic planning clients is to identify your core competencies and go deep with them. Deepen the engagement, the impact and capitalize on what you recognized for and good at doing. Now I'm turning that advice on myself.

I need to deepen my routes in the Bay Area. So, I had a transition relationship. It was good and I enjoyed it, despite the surprise ending. Does that mean I'm spun off and should respond by roaming. How about I look at why I am here in the Bay Area, what I am doing that is working so well. My friends, career and location are working for me. Deepen them.

The first thing I identified that I want to change is my housing situation. This has been a very good place for me to transition back into the Bay Area and as you know from previous posts, I am ready to spread my wings. Earlier in the year I was flirting with moving back into San Francisco. But I love the pace, environment and my friends in the East Bay. So, I've started looking on CraigsList for apartments in Alameda and Oakland. To my delight there are many options in my price range - with move-in specials. I'm going to start looking next week.

I often dream of having my own kitchen and now that can happen. Plus, I could get a cat or dog if I like. All my possessions in storage can become part of my life again - well almost all - do I need everything in there? I'll have to take a look. My petite mason will be filled with artworks, colors, pots, pans, music and books. Friends will be invited over for home cooked meals. Oh the joy of it.

As soon as I had this vision of moving into my own place I was able to take a decent nap. Now I feel like a million dollars. Plus, I had a fantastic heart-to-heart with my cousin Corrina who reminded me to go deep and be true to myself. Go ahead, make plans, live my life and be confident and deliberate.

Welcome Home

This morning I joyfully retuned to my Saturday yoga class at Alameda Yoga Station after pretty much an eight week absence. Waiting outside for Nancy to arrive, everyone welcomed me back. Lance asked if I had been travelling and after a moment's pause I said yes. It really does feel like I was on a journey. Then Larry said. "welcome home". Yes, this is my home, the reason I moved to Alameda.

Thinking more about anchors I realized that I should reflect on what is anchoring me and celebrate these embracements. Yoga is one of them. Ike the Bike is another. My wonderful friends and family are my foundation. Now to identify some inspirational and aspirational goals that I can pursue in the short, medium and long term. They are so close to being articulated and developed.

Speaking with Carolena of FatChanceBellyDance yesterday she stated what I believe to be true. If you visualize and build an idea the energy is put out there and it becomes reality. We are proving this with many of her business development ideas. They are coming true! Now to do the same for myself.

We practiced hand stands today in class. I was so pleased to be able to gracefully pushup into one. Nancy had music playing and I was humming along, whilst upside down. Then a wonderful thing happened, I found my balance and was able to be perfectly vertical without touching the wall. Everyone noticed and celebrated. I kept saying, "I'm doing it!" it brought tears to my eyes then and again now.

Balance. Support. Community. Embrace them all.

Sleepless Sleepless Sleepless

I've now had my third sleepless night. So much rushing and repeating in my mind - even with meditation and yoga. How easily I can go from feeling anchored to afloat. Suddenly I feel so unrooted here. This worries me - that I attach myself to someone else and when they are gone I am adrift.

Last night I started thinking I need a dog. They are so loyal through thick and thin. There's a great deal of responsibility that goes along with them but they will stand by your side, well, if trained. Then I had all kinds of guilt dreams about leaving Tika the Cat behind when I moved to London.

Should I just keep wandering? What will help me be settled? Hobbies would help. A plan would also help. For the past three months this plan has been based on another person's planning and I easily tagged along and made it my path. That's not OK. I have a very difficult time making plans for myself beyond a few months. The future is so unclear.

I have so many friends and family who have rallied for me over the past few days and I know that I am much loved. But again I am adrift...

August 7, 2009

Adventure Writing 101

What I am realizing is that I need a project or hobby to focus on. The first thing that came to mind is Kayaking. The second is writing combined with travel and adventure. It would be amazing to combine my interest in writing with my adventuring.

Giving it some thought this weekend.

August 6, 2009

Take 100% Resopnsibility for Your Happiness

Well, relationships are challenging, especially when you think it is going well and the other person doesn't. So, that's what has happened to me.

Yesterday, during my cross country flights, I heard a variety of quotes. Some of these are from conversations I had with folks, shows I was watching on TV and articles I read. Each one speaks to me.

-Everyone wants to quit at some point but you have to pick yourself up and continue.
-Holding hands gives someone a sense of togetherness.
-Your book is going to change the world.
-You talk how you write.
-You should write about you.
-Take 100% responsibility for your happiness.

That last one is my favorite. Be true to your heart, say what you feel - as long as it doesn't hurt others and share the love. Those are my core values.

August 5, 2009

Hopscotching Across the States

I am taking the most indirect route across the US to get back to Oakland. JetBlue started me at JFK and then we landed in Vegas, on to Long Beach, changed planes and now on to Oakland.

I can say with authority that Long Beach airport is the least sophisticated airport I've been to in a long time, maybe since flying into Ithaca when I was in college. Totally confusing, small and slow. They also offer the most expensive and smallest sandwich on the planet. $9.95 for a half size one.

Clearly I'm cranky and ready to get home. Oakland hear I come.

August 3, 2009

Friend Through Thick and Thin

Well, tonight I had my own little trauma drama. I stepped on a rusty nail out on my parents' deck and cut my foot. Totally in denial, I barely washed off the cut and put on some liquid bandaid stuff. Since the house was filled with mourners I walked around consulting people and the consensus was that I needed a Tetanus shot.

Thankfully, my childhood friend Lori was there with her two girls and offered to take me to the ER. The girls were so brave that I finally agreed to go. Lori and I sat in ER for five hours and caught up on life, the universe and everything. How lucky I am that she took care of me.

I recognized many of the same doctors and nurses that had helped Grammie this past Friday during our ER encounter. We had a lovely catch-up despite the situation and the fact that the ER didn't take my Kaiser insurance. Lori held my hand as I got the Tetanus shot. Now we have new crazy memories to laugh about for the next ten years.

Plus, Grammie and I now have matching bracelets!

My Grampie

This past weekend my Grampie passed away. His passing was not unexpected as he lived a full life of 92 years and went peacefully. The loss has been a catalyst for the Plotkin side of my family to get together at my folks' house in Connecticut. Being with all my aunts, uncles and first cousins has been amazing. We've been spending the days noticing our similarities and remembering the good times, while making new memories. Grampie, you launched a great clan.

August 1, 2009

Update on Grammie

Grammie is out of the hospital and in good spirits now that all her kids, grandkids and some of her great grandkids are with her.

Auntie Amy

Me and my nephew Sam-a-liscious at Stew Leondard's. Don't we look alike? It is our shared birthday.