May 28th – “You are what you do; own up to it instead of trying to separate your work from your life, and you’ll be much happier in the end.”

Yes, I am what I do. I don’t like to be defined by work, but it is a part of who I am whether I choose to identify with it or not.

For a long time, I hated being associated with my work because I felt that I was being limited. I had so many other things that I wanted to do. Well, that was the problem. I had things I wanted to do, but I wasn’t doing any of them! I’m happy to report that I’m no longer in that situation. Here is what I do:

Five mornings a week, I am a jogger. I tell people that I like to jog, but I really should give myself more credit than that.  I’ve been doing it for 20 years, so I am entitled to call myself a jogger.

A few days a week, I am an expert at work. I have knowledge that very few people do and it takes years to acquire the expertise that I have. My clients come to me for help and trust the recommendations I give them.

Every day, I am an intellectual who likes to over analyze culture and read books on history, politics, and theory.  Trust me, you do NOT want to watch a movie with me!  I like to watch bad sitcoms like Fuller House just to see how race, gender, and social status are portrayed. I think there’s something to learn in everything, even the crappy stuff.

Most days, I am a cook. I try new recipes, make things from scratch that many people would not, and prefer home-cooked meals than eating out.  

I am also a blogger. I document my experiments, thoughts, and feelings and share them with a few readers every week. By the way, thank you for reading! I’ve only been blogging since September and it’s great to know that someone out there reading my stuff!

Finally, I am a writer. Perhaps, this is the most difficult thing to call myself. I still struggle with my writing, rarely have perfect grammar, and am not a fan of proofreading. Nevertheless, writing is still something that I do and like.  Believe it or not, I even have some published articles out there.  Am I am a writer? Yes, I am!

May 24th – “You’ll awaken today with one question on your mind: How can I get my daily allowance of potassium without all the sugar in bananas?”

Really, that’s the one question I have on my mind? It’s not, “Why do I have to get up so early” or “Why do I have to go to work?” Whoever wrote today’s post has a funny sense of humor. Perhaps I should get that into the business of horoscope writing. I’m sure I can come up with some weird suggestions for readers to follow! 

Nutrients are the last thing on my mind and I have no problem eating all that sugar in bananas. I have a banana almost every morning with yogurt.

My horoscope further instructed me to have some celery because it “three stalks of celery contain the same amount of potassium as one banana without all that pesky sugar.. I hate celery, but thought that I should try something new for a change. I went to work with a couple of stalks of celery in lieu of my banana.

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It was pretty bland on it’s own, so I had the celery sticks with a side of raw honey I keep for emergencies like this. So much for skipping sugar!

May 23rd – “Nature nurtures your soul to its very roots.”

IMG_9073[1]Seven years ago, I spent four months in Hong Kong. It wasn’t my first trip overseas, but it was my first time staying in the city for more than two weeks. It was then that I realized that I did not want to live in a city anymore. I lived in the suburbs of Hong Kong and even that was too crowded for me. Yes, it was convenient place filled with all sorts of amenities, but I would have traded the air conditioning for peace and quiet. A New Yorker I met  once described Hong Kong as “New York on steroids” and I think that it’s an accurate description.

I’m sure my city friends will be annoyed at me for saying this: I think there is something dehumanizing about city life. The city eats away at my soul. It makes me wait in endless traffic, rush from one place to another, and buy $3.50 croissants and teas for breakfast without hesitation.

San Francisco is much slower than Hong Kong, but sometimes when I’m there I feel like I am disappearing into the masses, and the city is using my soul as its energy source. Perhaps I don’t have the same defenses I once had when I was young, or maybe Hong Kong broke me.

On the days that I’m home, I spend my time admiring the flowers and plants I help grow. I have been planting vegetables for the past five years and only started bringing flowers into the mix last year. Boy, it makes a huge difference!

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The little fig trees I have aren’t flowering yet, so I too some dried figs to make a new recipe.  

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Fig Bars

Filling

⅔ cup to 1 cup water

8 oz pack of dried figs, diced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup

 

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in pot and gently boil for about 7 minutes on low heat. The filling is ready when it is a thick jam consistency.

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Dough

⅓ cup shortening

⅔ cup maple sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cup flour

1 ¼ cup wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

A few dashes of salt

1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening, sugar together until smooth. I didn’t do a good job on mine, so there were little specks of shortening!
  2. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. If dough is dry, add a teaspoon of water one at a time until the dough sticks together.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll dough into a 14 x 14 inch square. Cut into four long pieces.
  7. Add filling to middle, then fold both sides to cover filling.
  8. Place bars seam side down, and bake for 14 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice.

Original recipe here.

May 14th – “Sunday is a 24-hour period best described as magical. You radiate a sense of possibility and power.”

This is the first Sunday in months that I haven’t watched any television. I usually like to wind down on Sundays with a show or two to ease back into Monday.

Just as I was going to going to turn on the television, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in two years called me. One hour and forty-five minutes later, it was almost dinner time!

The great thing that came out of our conversation (aside from catching up with her) was that I had new inspirations for stories. Earlier in the day, I came up with one new story idea while walking back from brunch. I already thought I was lucky then!

That night, I didn’t turn on the television and turned on my writing lamp instead. I stayed up later than I wanted to, but didn’t feel guilty about it. I think I am on the road to kicking my tv habit!

Thanks for the magical day!

March 30th – “Plan a camping trip.”

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Message sent! All that’s left to do is wait and see if anyone is interested.

If no one wants to go, great hiking is only a 20 minute drive north, south, east, or west for me. The best part about living in wine country is quick access to acres and acres of green space. There are so many parks here that I can enjoy without having to plan a big trip. I haven’t hiked since last summer. Maybe I’ll go this weekend and see some wild turkeys!

Thanks for the reminder, horoscope!

March 27th – “Making money is both an art and a science, and you have enough creativity and intellect to make it work. You just can’t seem to bring the two together. Don’t give up because you’ll receive some divine inspiration just in the nick of time.”

And “Financially, you could be doing a little better.”

Okay, horoscopes. I get the picture. You want me to make more money, even if I don’t want to. Well, it’s not that I don’t want to. I just don’t want to increase my income at the expense of my current stress-free lifestyle. What are you trying to do to me?!

I suppose I should be grateful, instead of annoyed about the situation. If divine inspiration is going to help me make money, so be it!

Going along with things and letting divine inspiration guide me seems to be the theme in my life right now. My tarot reader told me to go with the flow. A few months ago, she also said that I don’t have to worry about my writing projects too much. If I put in the hours, even if it means staring at a blank page for hours (oh, I have so many years of experience doing that), I will get some divine inspiration!

All signs point towards material and non-material wealth for me. Is that what it all means?

I really should have quit reading while I was ahead.

Another prediction warned me that, “Symbols are suddenly popping up all over the place, but not all have meaning.”

Horoscope, stop messing me and give me a straight answer!

March 26th – “Feel like you’re banging your head against a wall with someone? Give up, move on.”

Yes, I do. I’ve told myself that I’ve given up on my friend by keeping my mouth shut when it comes to his love life, but I really haven’t. I may not have been saying anything to him, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have strong opinions. I have been HOPING that he will come around and see what he’s doing to himself. Today I’m officially giving up. There’s no more hoping on my part. If I can’t help him become stronger, I have to just let him be!

On one of the days when I was relating too much to my friend’s problems, my partner wisely counseled, “Maybe there’s a lesson your friend needs to learn and he needs to go through this experience.”

I argued, “But they are BOTH suffering so much. He’s punishing himself AND her for something that has nothing to do with their relationship. It seems like his partner thinks that it’s what long term relationships should be. I hate seeing them both suffer like this. It’s awful!”

He replied, “Well, maybe they both have something to learn from this.”

“You have a point,” I paused because he was right. Then I continued, “The world can have cruel ways to lead us to where we need to go.”

It’s been months since I’ve had this conversation with my partner. I’ve always understood this intellectually, but haven’t processed it emotionally. Time to let this one go!

I doubt this will be the last time it will come up. The next time “hope” rear’s its ugly head, I’ll tell it to, “GO AWAY! I’m moving on!”

February 16th – “Don’t try to control the chaos today. Let things unfold.”

 

Some days there’s no catching up.  I started the work day doing yesterday’s unfinished assignments. Just when I thought I had caught up, I received more work in my inbox. Oh well. That’s the way the work goes. If there wasn’t a lot of work, I’d be out of a job!

Most of the time, when I see chaos, I run away from it. I don’t like to watch chaos unfold. Real-life drama is all too familiar to me and makes me very comfortable, not curious. It’s like sitting through a horrible theatre show. I really don’t like staying when it’s bad. I want the performers to do well and for everyone to have a good time. When that doesn’t happen, I have empathy for the actors. The actors might know that the show sucks, but as they say, “the show must go on!” I do usually end up staying until the end for 2 reasons:

  1. I hold out hope that there could be something redeeming, some deus ex machina that will come save the dreadful production which rarely happens.
  2. More importantly, I stay out of respect for the actors on stage (who I likely came to the show to support). Playing to an empty house is worse than putting on a terrible show. Suffering together is much better than suffering alone!

The trick to avoiding chaos is to recognize it. It’s not always easy to spot, especially when chaos comes in the form of people we know well. It’s common to get into particular pattern of behavior around familiar faces. These family and friends know which buttons to push and how to get us wrapped up in the usual drama. It’s usually unintentional because we’ve gotten used to acting a certain way and playing specific roles. Trying to change that behavior is not impossible, but usually not easy.

It takes a certain amount of detachment for me to be around chaos. Lately, when people unload their issues on me, I’ve been taking that negative energy onto myself. I relate well to those destructive behaviors, so it affects me deeply. I haven’t had the capacity to emotionally protect myself from other people’s problems, so I’ve been using my best coping mechanism. Complete detachment and avoidance. That means limiting my interactions. If that’s not possible, I will change the subject or flat out say, “I don’t want to talk about this.” When I’m in survival mode, sometimes the best thing to do is detach. Some people might take offense, but hey, I come first!

February 8th – “Get your household together and have a last-minute purge today.”

When life gets busy, it often gets messy. This weekend, my friends and I are celebrating Galentine’s Day and I am so glad that I’m not hosting it at my place. My house is a wreck. I didn’t have the energy for a big purge, but I did manage to get rid of a few things.

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I’ve been collecting these egg cartons for a few months. I save them for a friend who gets fresh eggs from her mom’s farm. I could give them to her every week when I see her, but of course, I don’t do things the easy or logical way. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve but didn’t!

It didn’t take up very much space in the garage, but now that the cartons are gone, it’s amazing how great I feel! I invested so much energy thinking about them when I didn’t have to at all. Who knew that one simple act could make such a difference?

Well, I sort of did (intellectually anyway), but I don’t always do what’s good for me. I know I’m not alone! How many times have you told yourself that you want to read more, eat less, exercise more, or try harder? I have said this to myself countless times, yet that list of doesn’t seem to get shorter. I’m good one day and terrible the next!

However, all is not lost. I just need to remember that habits may be difficult to create, but certainly not as impossible as I make them out to be in my head.

For tips, check out this article: Why We Don’t Do The Things We Know Are Good For Us.

January 19th – “Don’t you dare stay home. Get dressed and get out there.”

Last night, I went out into the world and explored the city science museum. It was packed because on Thursday nights the museum has comedy shows, food, and lots of booze.

The museum was filled with the usual natural history stuff (or taxidermy animals), live and dead sea creatures, a mini rainforest dome, gems and mineral, and a planetarium with a show narrated by George Takei. His voice is very soothing and he enunciates very well!

One of the highlights of the live exhibits is Claude, the albino alligator. When we visited him in what looked like a 20 x 20 feet tank, he was laying on a giant slab in the middle of the artificial swamp.  Claude was surrounded on all sides by people gazing at him as music blasted on speakers. I was tempted to take a picture of him, but I didn’t. It didn’t feel right. I don’t know how long Claude had been living there, but he turned 21 last September.

I have mixed feelings about museums, especially those with live/dead animals in them. Part of me appreciates the ability to see such wondrous creatures in my own convenience and comfort. The other part of me has strong sense of empathy for these collected animals, destined to live out their lives in captivity.

I expressed my uneasiness to my friend, “I feel bad for the guy. He can’t even get a quiet night alone!”

“He would die out in the wild. Here, he gets fed and gets to live,” he argued.

I replied, “I would rather be free and dead than live this kind of life!”

It was good to know that I still have some fight left in me.