December 31, 2010

The Year of Balance

2011 will be the Year of Balance as 2010 was the Year of Living My Dreams and 2009 was the Year of R+D and 2008 was the Year of Amy.

I took a walk to the Oakland rose garden to gather my thoughts for the coming year and to set my intentions. At first I was going to set goals but intentions are so much more inspirational and less business-speak. From all our rain the plants are in bloom and I found a lovely clover as my inspiration. Have you ever noticed that clover leaves are hearts? I picked one and used it as my inspiration framing. Then I sketched it on a 3x5 card and in each heart I wrote a core value - love, learn and create. I then wrote out my intentions. Along the walk back to my house I picked up beautiful leaves and was greeted my favorite cat Lowkei when I arrived at my street. He kissed all the leaves for me. Once home, I arranged the leaves, my clover and my Year of Balance values and intentions under the glass of my new coffee table. So many lovely touchstones.

December 29, 2010

Skype Video Family

Me, Matt and Rachel on new video skype - they are in the same house in MD and I'm in CA.

Spirit of the Holidays

Unusual and beautiful again at Mountain View Cemetery.

Happy Toes

Once again, festive flowers from the Nail Shop in Alameda.

December 28, 2010

Saturday on Tuesday

On this rainy Tuesday evening I am in Alameda doing all my Saturday morning activities. My excursion began with a lovely pedicure and now I'm at Julie's Cafe drinking roobios chai latte eating gluten-free oatmeal cookies and posting to the blog with my new/refurbished blackberry. Let's hope I can keep this one dry. My feet however are drenched as I had to walk in flipflops. Reminds me of Houston.

December 27, 2010

Fresh Egg

Leah's chicken Amelia laid its fourth egg since Christmas.

December 26, 2010

Fall Leaves

Walking in my favorite cemetery with Cousin Diana.

Shopping cart christmas tree

Here's the christmas tree Nancy linked to a few weeks ago when I posted the photo of the chair wreath at Julie's Cafe.

Blackberry is going wonky when I type capital letters, so that's why lowercase in the post title.

Blackberry Trying to Live

Well, the blackberry is at about 90%. I think the trip to the ATT store to get it replaced has boosted its effort to recover. That, and Ron and Dad's advice to let it dry out. We shall see.

December 25, 2010

All Washed Up

Despite the rain on this Christmas morning, my friend Jon and I decided to take a hike at Muir Woods. Rain? What's a little rain? It was a down poor. Only us and the European tourists who were desperate for a piece of California were out in the rain. Thankfully, unlike many of the tourists, we weren't wearing high heals.

In the rain ordeal my blackberry got drenched and some of the keys aren't working. I can see I have a text message, probably the most important message of my life, if that is possible, but I can't log-in to my blackberry because C keeps typing as an H and it is asking me to type in blackberry to get into the phone. The irony.

December 22, 2010

Michael and Jason

Is this the end of a Cafe Trieste era?

Cafe Americain's Swan Song at Cafe Trieste

This is No Picknick!

I baked dozens of cookies last night for holiday parties and as gifts. Just discovered an army of ants, leading from my door, across my floor, across my counter and onto my cookies. Well, it was fun baking them.

December 21, 2010

Knots Untied

Two hours of reflexology and massage at The Foot Spa in Oakland and I am untied. Thank you Groupon, and Matt and Rachel for getting me Groupon bucks.

December 20, 2010

Girl Talk

Ten minutes into my stay-cation I didn't know what to do with myself. Work is done, school is done, books are, I called my friend Karen back east and we caught up. It was a wonderful conversation. Then I spoke with Nancy in LA and that was super. Next, I spoke with Allison in San Luis Obispo and that was wonderful. Followed by Leah in Oakland and finally Hisun also in Oakland. Basically, I had a girl talk day - long time coming.

Tomorrow is reflexology and a massage. Heavenly

Doing the Happy Dance

Oh My Happiness! I'm on vacation! I'm in my pjs ice skating in my socks on the hardwood floors of my apartment. So much time, so little to do!

Stay-cation Has Begun!

Submitted my final grades and completed my Doctoral course. Three week stay-cation has officially begin. Bring it on!

December 19, 2010

Julia Morgan's Berkeley City Club

Maureen and I are at our friend Belinda's play Becoming Julia Morgan, once again. It is fabulous! This time it is being performed at Berkeley City Club - designed by Morgan. Here's the pool. Last time Maureen and I saw it at Asilomar. Where to next? Does this qualify us as Belinda Groupies?

Amy Drive, Oakland

Googling the new location for Alameda Yoga Station I switched the map to Google Earth and it took me directly to a street called Amy Drive in Oakland. How bizzare.

View Larger Map

December 18, 2010

Jim Kweskin on Stage

I just love seeing him perform.

Back Stage at Freight and Salvage with Jim Kweskin!

Namaste Old Alameda Yoga Station

As it moves to a new, new location I say thank you for being a space that supported me through injuries of the body and heart. But really, it is the people and not the place that makes it so special. Happy Holidays to my yogi peeps.

The Final Run

As my teaching quarter comes to an end and my first quarter in the Doctoral program closes out, I've come down with a nasty cold. My final paper is due today and all my grading due tomorrow. For the past 36 hours I've been locked up inside my apartment, floating between my bed and couch, typing and napping while my nose runs.

I realized that yesterday I only spoke out loud twice but had numerous conversations - all by email. Calgon take me away! I am so ready for a three week holiday and being able to breath easily, literally.

December 15, 2010

Killing My Lobster Captures Oakland

The sketch comedy troupe Killing My Lobster has absolutely captured the hipster view of Oakland in this promotional video. Scary enough, I live between the Temescal district and Bay Bridge Inn. Now to try some Ghostriding.

Bravo KLM for using YouTube to showcase your work.

December 14, 2010

World's Biggest Box of Chocolate

As you may know, I don't eat chocolate but love to give it as a gift. This giant box was at CVS and I am going to share it with my students this week. A great gift for finals week!

December 11, 2010

Sam Being a Kweskin

We love to eat, he's learning to be a true Kweskin as seen in this photo.

December 10, 2010

Snow in Falls Church

Although it may be hard to see in this photo, it is snowing in Virginia. Sticking too! Oh yes, I am a California Girl.

December 9, 2010

The Intimate Patdown

At the Oakland airport in my way to a quick DC visit to see my family and meet my new piece. Well, when it came to the choice of intimate patdown and intimate x-ray at security, I requested the patdown. The way they make you stand and the image they get when doing the x-ray was just too much for me. Looked way too "guilty" and provides way too much information.

The woman who performed my patdown explained it all in advance and as she was touching me, in very intimate places. But frankly, it was like being at yoga. I didn't mind. It was even a bit like having a massage. Heck, if I have a choice I'm going for intimate human contact - for free. Didn't even cost me to get felt up, down and around. I feel like I made a new friend.

No Appointment, No Disappointment

Over the past week I've been exploring the idea of relationship expectations - be that with friends, family, dates or even co-workers. A friend said to me that her secret for happy dating is having no expectations for what the "relationship" should or should not be. As the week progressed, I put this idea out there to a variety of people - not specific to dating, but relationships in general. The consensus was that when you create expectations, you are creating a story, a scenario, one that likely is only owned by you and not the other person. Ultimately, you are destined for disappointment.

On the other hand, if you just appreciate the interactions you have with people, and do not build a load of expectations around that relationship, you can actually enjoy the reality of what that person has to offer and be present with your interactions.

I was chatting with a colleague today about this idea, in regards to student performance, and he said he once studied under a guru whose mantra was, "no appointment, no disappointment." Of course we have standards and goals that we help students strive to meet, but we take what they give us and coach them to reach their fullest potential. If we expected only A's then we would only be disconnected from the learning process which is all about learning from mistakes. My only disappointment with students is when they give up.

As I thought about this idea of disappointment as it relates to my personal relationships, I realized that sometimes I compromise who I really am because I don't want to be disappointed by "scaring people away." This makes me unhappy because I am disappointing myself as I compromise to live out some unspoken scenario I hope the other person has received via ESP. Stories get built on stories and then I'm living in this shattered fantasy world because I was not being true to myself.

When am I most myself? When I'm dancing and expressing myself freely. I am myself when I go on adventures with friends and explore new places, openly interact with people to understand their inspirations and often end up buying their artwork. I am least myself when I sit quietly, with my arms and legs pulled in, trying to make myself smaller so that I can ensure that my imagined relationship scenario will not be derailed.

This week I broke out of this hide-away habit. With a variety of people I expressed who I really am. I spoke up, stated my interests and needs, danced, and ultimately felt happy, relaxed and alive. In fact, so much disappointment has disappeared because I have less expectations of others. Whatever they have to give me, I'll experience it, respond to it, go with it and question it - instead of hiding behind a shadow of who I am.

Frankly, I have no expectations of the people who are my closest family and friends. We flow in and out of each other's lives. Sometimes a month can go by and we do not make contact. But, I know they love me and are there for me. The expectation I do have is that they have open hearts, make time for me when I need them and that I do the exact same for them, on both counts.

We don't need an appointment.

December 8, 2010

Fashionistas of the Future

My students at the Art Institute of California - Sunnyvale just presented a fantastic event - Biz of Fashion: The Impact of Social Media on the Fashion Entrepreneur. Our guest speakers included Mayka Mei of Moxsie, Abigail Rivamonte of MADE Jewlery and Ryan Mante of Breezy Excursion and they had so many fantastic insights about being  a fashion professional in the Bay Area. My students were professional, prepared, organized and totally impressive. So inspirational witnessing the future generation of fashion leaders find their stride!

December 7, 2010

Headlands View

Visiting my friend Lucy in the Presidio before she heads out to the UK for a month. I love my flexible schedule and being able to take a day during the week for friends.

December 6, 2010

Balance is a Practice

Eat Pray Love, the book that inspired me to dedicate 2008 to the Year of Amy, 2009 to the Year of Research and Development and 2010 to The Year of Living My Dreams, has touched me again - this time with the movie version.

I still feel like I'm finding balance in and for myself. "Ruin is the road to transformation" and I feel like I'm still on that road. With that, I am learning, that I must love and forgive myself and that "the only way to heal is to trust."

Every day is challenging and sometimes lonely. I hide away and keep to myself, but I am healing and I am learning to trust and to love who I am. Yes, I am in finding balance. Gosh, its been a long time.

Balance is a practice.

December 5, 2010

Latke Dance

Last night my cousin Diana hosted her annual Chanukah party and at the height of the evening we had worked ourselves into a silly dance frenzy. The evening has several traditions developed over the years - lighting the candles, saying the prayers, reading a passage from the Buddhist Eight Fold Path, veggie/vegan potluck, latkes, answering a thoughtful question posed by Diana (who is a Matriarch you admire, and why?), grab bag gift exchange, and dancing. Added this year was a game of dreidel, which was surprisingly enthralling.

Eileen, Diana's housemate, created a CD of Chanukah music for part of her grab bag gift. It was a fantastic mix of modern songs, many of which were quite danceable. We created our own little dance club in the living room and got jiggy with Chanukah cheer. The best song was about making latkes and I spontaneously created a dance that involved all the steps in making latkes, applesauce, serving and clearing the dishes and washing the plates. While I was dancing everyone sat down on the couches that surrounded the dance space and began egging me on. Being a true extrovert, I eventually had a groove going with scooping the latke mixture into the frying pan, shaking the plan, flipping it to make the latkes over in the air (I can do that in real life), removing each latke with a spatella onto a plate and then placing the plate in the oven to stay warm, closing the oven door with a swoosh of my hip. All of this while my feet were dancing, hips and shoulders swaying to the music. It must have been quite a show because everyone asked me to do it all again as we replayed the song.

What I liked best was that I felt free to express myself with movement. Dancing and cooking and smiling felt so good. When I think about the times I have feel the most happy, it is when I am dancing and cooking - in a groove, surrounded by great friends.