Archive | Reflections/Thoughts RSS for this section

Happy Holidays & the Peanuts

Peanuts cartoons were a fixture in my childhood, and the love affair has continued into the present.

Though “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a favorite this time of year, I also enjoy the other holiday specials such as this one: “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” which focuses on the experiences of Rerun, Lucy and Linus’ younger brother.

Like Rerun, I’ve always dreamed of a Christmas dog. 🙂

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown

Happy Holidays, Everyone! Wishing you a great holiday season and a wonderful 2013.

Thanks for reading,

D & S

 

San Francisco & Winter Hope

Things have been a bit busy lately. (Take a look at my Status Update post for more info.)

But since I’ve switched lots of my back-related stuff to Constant Compression, I want to use this space to talk about other things.

Last weekend, Dan and I spent a few days out in the Bay Area. It was…emotional, inspiring, and fresh.

The original plan was to visit my cousin who moved out to the suburb of Fremont back in July. I’m fairly close to my cousin and I knew he’d been missing friends/family, so I wanted to visit and hang out. As the dates of our trip grew closer, Dan and I began discussing the possibility of relocating as a part of our career and life goals.

When it came to career, we both wanted to have more job opportunities available to us in our respective fields (him: Electrical Engineering, and me: mainly Organizational Psychology which has meant a combination of consulting, market research/data analytics, HR; though I’m also looking to continue building my photography acumen). In order to broaden the available avenues, we really needed to consider relocating. While we enjoy Austin and have lots of friends and fond memories here, the job market in this area is limited in some ways. As a result, both of us were finding more available jobs (and a wider variety) on the East and West Coasts.

When it came to life goals, we’d talked about wanting to live in a more metropolitan location. Having traveled to larger cities (and in my case, having lived in a couple), we missed the broader access to an array of restaurants and cultural venues urban areas often provide. Plus, we were both a bit intellectually bored – we wanted access to lectures, conferences, and other professional and personal development opportunities generally found in larger cities. Also, Dan’s interest in competitive partner dancing has led him to visit denser cities (re: generally Dallas and Houston given that we are in Texas), and it seemed to be the case that urban areas also offered more dance opportunities too.

So, San Francisco and the Bay Area became a possible contender for relocation. And thus on our recent trip, we tried to get a sense if we felt like “San Franciscans” or not.

We spent a fair amount of time catching up with my cousin and a dear high school friend, and Dan even had a lunch interview with a company, but we also talked about things like locations with BART access, city neighborhood impressions, restaurants we enjoyed, and topics like climate preferences (for the record: I like it mild; not too hot, not too cold – Dan is a bit more adaptable in this area).

The trip felt emotional because we had heartfelt conversations with both my high school friend and my cousin. Past and present definitely intersected in a poignant and self-reflective way.

Likewise, it was inspiring because of how bustling and active the area seemed. Dan’s interview especially showed him a little of what a startup’s culture can be like – full of hope, optimism, and spirit. Walking around the city, I noticed class discrepancies, urban gentrification, and progress. San Francisco doesn’t embody “ambition” the way NYC does, but it definitely had an air of potential.

And the trip was fresh in many ways. Dan hadn’t been to the area since he was a kid, and I’d spent a few hours running through Chinatown a couple of years ago on a business trip – so we were able to basically take in the area without lots of preconceptions or prior experience. Additionally, I definitely felt the sense that were we to move there, we’d be starting anew in many ways – shedding our post-college/grad school years and really coming into our own as adults, in a sense.

Of course, things are still very much undecided at this point. We’re both applying/searching for work, and discussing various cities we might move to on both coasts. Plus there are factors like our physical health, finances, and friendships/connections to consider.

But for the first time in a long time I feel…hopeful.

While a tad anxiety provoking, not knowing exactly what’s to come but knowing that it will be something very different from the present, is surprisingly rather pleasant (I say surprisingly, because as you might have guessed from some prior posts, I am not always one to go gracefully through change).

I’m ripe for new adventures and for us to start making our own opportunity.

As the holiday season switches into full blown twinkling lights, sweet treats, cold nights, human connection, and reflection/resolution, I’m finally holding onto a tiny bit of that magical/optimistic glow for us, and our future.

As always, I’ll keep you posted as things develop.

Wishing you all the very best this holiday season.  And thank you. Thank you very much for reading.

Always, S

Facebook Facade

I was watching The Backup Plan earlier and realized how romantic comedies have a way of highlighting societal trends. Perhaps someone has researched this or drawn this parallel before, but I doubt a movie like The Backup Plan (about a woman who decides to inseminate herself because she does not have a partner but wants a baby, and then ends up finding a partner and having two babies), would have been in theatres even 15 years ago.

First of all, feminism is still a relatively recent social movement if we associate it with elements like voting rights and the advent of birth control (historically speaking, there are examples of powerful women throughout history – a few that come to mind: Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Wu Zetian, Cleopatra – and that’s not to say that being a powerful female = being feminist, just that there are some similarities).

Second of all, there are a variety of cultural taboos (at least in the U.S.) surrounding female sexuality, including conception and childbirth. For some, it is still a challenge to talk about topics like fertility in public, let alone being artificially inseminated and having a child on one’s own.

Which got me thinking about the idea of what information we choose to make public and what information we don’t.

While there are movies like The Backup Plan and other variants who are bringing historically taboo topics out into the open, I find that I actually maintain a fairly private identity in the public sphere.

This is not just because I’m an introvert (though I don’t doubt the role of that personality trait in what I disclose in public), but because I feel social pressure to share the positives.

For example, in looking at what I choose to share on Facebook you’ll find: photos of me (95% of which are uploaded by friends who have taken the images), photos I’ve taken during my recent dive into digital photography (mostly of adult dancers), the occasional status update wishing folks a Happy 4th of July or thanking people for posting a wall note on my birthday, and the tiniest bit of info on where I went to school, where I grew up, and where I live. Dan and I didn’t even post our relationship statuses until a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been together almost two years.

Furthermore, when I look at my Facebook feed, I see: wedding photos, newborn baby photos, new house photos, status updates on a vacation or trip, “I love you” posts between family and friends, news articles on topics of interest (mainly positive, the only controversial ones of late were related to the Presidential election), marathon medals/competition awards, graduation photos…I think you get the picture.

Now granted, I realize I’m focusing on Facebook here, and that perhaps my activities and/or that of my Facebook friends, is atypical of the norm, but in my experiences, I’m seeing a definite bias towards positive events/experiences.

In fact, even though there may be an occasional quote about “life being tough”, I rarely see a status update saying “I was laid off today,” or “I came out and my family was less than thrilled,” or (in my case) “had a really rough physical therapy session today.”

The more controversial, less rosy, grit in life – is definitely lacking in my social networks.

As I said, I know there are limitations to my observations based on my small sample, but I’d be curious to know if you’re finding similar results across your own social channels.

It seems ironic to me at a time when (at least within the U.S.) we seem to be outwardly praising acceptance and self-expression, and yet there is still a bit of censorship in what we really show. And as I said, I’m guilty of it too – I keep my Facebook posts to a minimum, and rarely bare my soul to Pinterest followers and the like.

The question I have is…why?

I’ll hunt around for some research. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any thoughts. What trends do you notice amongst your social networks? Are they similar or different from mine?

Thanks for reading,

S

Power Posing

I came across this recent TED Talk (for more info on TED Talks, click here), where social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses her findings on what she calls “power poses.”

Power poses, according to Cuddy, are essentially non-verbal behaviors that communicate a sense of confidence/assertiveness/power, or the lack thereof.

Cuddy mentions the power poses used across various species, including primates, birds and reptiles, and humans. She describes poses demonstrating power as ones were the individual “takes up [physical] space” or “[becomes] big.” Examples of this are the Wonder Woman pose:

wonder woman, pose, power pose, female, cartoon, super hero

(Credit: http://www.amazonarchives.com/Images/wwnew.gif)

Where, as you can see from the above graphic, the person takes a confident stance and takes up space with their feet and elbow positioning. There were other examples as well, such as sitting with one’s feet up on a table, hands behind one’s head with elbows out in a triangular fashion, and more.

Conversely, Cuddy demonstrated the physical positions one can take that exhibit a lack of power – crouching, hunched posture, etc. She described these positions as “making oneself smaller” or “taking up less [physical] space.”

To investigate how power poses impact the individual, Cuddy and her colleagues took saliva samples of research participants before and after having them assume either a powerful or powerless pose. The levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and testosterone (assertive/confidence boosting hormone), were impacted by whether the subject assumed a power position or not. As one might think, those who assumed power poses showed elevated testosterone and decreased cortisol, whereas those who assumed powerless poses showed decreased testosterone and elevated cortisol  (please watch the TED Talk for the actual numeric outcomes). With one caveat being that related research has shown that ideal leaders tend to exhibit elevated testosterone and decreased cortisol (assertion without stress), though some leaders can show elevated testosterone and cortisol (assertion and chaotic behavior).

However, what was most interesting about Cuddy’s research and her presentation, was not the definition of a power pose or it’s impact on hormones. Rather, it was how the use of power poses not only communicates assertiveness/confidence/power (or the lack thereof) through body language, but can also actively shape how powerful one feels internally.

Cuddy took her research findings to the classroom and observed that students who felt more powerful also frequently employed power poses, and students who felt less powerful tended towards using less power poses. This led her to posit the idea of “faking it ’til you become it.” In other words, in a situation where many of us often feel less powerful (her example was in a job interview), we should enact power poses for as little as 2 minutes, in order to feel more powerful (and thereby, act more confident/assertive). Once we do this repeatedly (not necessarily for multiple job interviews, moreso on a semi-regular basis in our daily lives), we’ll actually start to feel more confident/assertive, which in turn will cause us to enact more power poses, and thus the cycle reinforces itself.

This linkage between internal thoughts/beliefs and behaviors, has been well documented throughout social science literature (e.g., self-fulfilling prophecy, cognition and behavior research and therapeutic strategies, etc.), but rarely have I come across something as easy to implement or explain, as Cuddy’s suggestion.

At a time in my life when I am going through lots of disenfranchising experiences and needing to rebuild internally, perhaps Cuddy’s findings can help in those moments when I feel the least empowered, and maybe even nudge my self-perception a bit towards the positive. 2 minutes of Wonder Woman’s stance a day seems very doable, and possibly, life changing. For if I start to feel more powerful, if we all felt more powerful, who knows what we could accomplish.

Have you ever tried power poses? Will you try them?

To listen to Cuddy’s talk, click here.

A Love Like That.

As some of you know, I struggle with letting go and allowing love to grow (both in terms of what I share with others and in what I feel inside as self-love). I’ve recently been experimenting with giving in to love and thereby permitting myself to experience things like inner peace (similar to that moment on the train in Thailand), and seeing myself through the eyes of the ones that love me.

It’s really something – to feel the kind of warmth and acceptance of inner peace or of the love of another.

For these reasons, blogger Kendall Goodwin’s post with the above quote/poem, resonated with me.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,
S

Photobucket

Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the
Whole
Sky.

– Hafiz, Sufi poet

View original post

Grattitude

Last weekend I attended i Heart Faces‘ photography conference for women.

It was great to spend a day talking with and learning from, other women (and a few men) deeply interested in photography.

As I’m in the process of establishing myself in the field, I greatly appreciated the discussions on marketing and business skills, the conversations with other female photographers (some aspiring, some long time veterans, some simply storing moments on their smartphones), the ability to test Tamron lenses, and the workshops (the commercial one was neat to observe and I got a few great shots of the engaged couple outdoors). Plus, it was lots of fun to visit the infamous Southfork Ranch in Dallas. However, what really stuck with me the most was the conclusion to Sue Bryce’s talk on her career, her craft, and her perspective on photography.

All wealth, all opportunity, all success, comes from gratitude. – Sue Byrce

Gratitude.

Something seemingly fragile and vulnerable, but extremely powerful.

Sue’s sentiment really resonated with me.

Whether you thank your partner, your friends, your family, your boss, yourself, your doctors, your teachers, your mentors, a particular deity or religious guide, fate, karma, luck, an institution/organization, or something else entirely – I’ve found it often true that who we are, where we are, and what we’ll become, is often supported and influenced by forces/people/things, beyond ourselves.

It can be hard to say thank you, because by saying thank you, we’re also acknowledging that we couldn’t achieve something without another’s efforts. Or sometimes, at least in my case, I feel undeserving of the help/resources/support of another, and while it’s not as hard to appreciate them for their assistance, it’s hard to appreciate that I’m not any less of me/less human for acknowledging that I needed and benefited from their help.

Gratitude, like so many emotions, can be complex – and then…

sometimes it’s really, really simple.

Just two words:

thank you.

So, thank you to everyone (including you, readers) who:

– listened to me

– loved me

– hugged me, held me, kissed me

– carried me

– helped me

– made me believe in myself

– made me feel when feeling was hard

– made me work when working was hard

– made me play when playing was hard

– made me communicate when communicating was hard

– held my hand while I waited

– taught me

– gave me tools or experience

– brought me closer to a goal or dream

– let me be me

and everything in between.

I can only hope that in this lifetime, I’m able to come close to reciprocating the enormous gifts you’ve given to me.

Love, Sarah

Sarah’s Thailand – Fall 2012

I’m in a writing state of mind today, no doubt thanks to a bit of a positive boost from this morning’s rain (read about it here).

And I promised you a piece on our Thailand trip. So here it is – Northern Thailand, through my eyes…

When I lost my job in June and I decided to take a few months to regroup and experiment, one of my goals was to travel abroad. Nowhere in particular, but somewhere far away from my day to day.

I thought about going back to Europe/UK, since my lovely friend Y and I had only been to London and some surrounding cities, back in 2010. But Europe/UK was expensive (the unfortunate result of the exchange rate between the USD vs. the Euro or GBP), and to be honest, seemed a bit too similar to home. I wanted something really exotic and different. So I turned to Asia, as many countries in this region (China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam) are high on my travel list. Plus, many of my closest relationships are to Asian Americans and I’ve always been very interested in Asian culture past and present.

Y and I had talked about going to China, and I thought Dan might want to visit Vietnam one day, so I settled my sights on Thailand.

Originally I planned to travel on my own but not alone, so I researched various small group tour companies. After consulting a variety of travel blogs and news articles, I ended up selecting Imaginative Traveller and their partner, Intrepid Travel. I knew I wanted to travel for about 10 days (I would miss Dan too much if I was gone for more than a couple weeks), and I wanted to keep costs to a minimum, so I settled on their Explore Northern Thailand tours, which were listed at 8 days.

While in the final planning stages of this adventure (literally, within the week or so I planned to book everything), I happened to connect with my friend S from grad school. We were catching up over email and when I revealed my plans to go to Thailand and asked if she’d like to come, she said yes!

And from there on, our adventure began.

We met in NYC and flew to Bangkok (by way of Shanghai) in mid-September. We stayed in the cities of Bangkok, Sukohthai, Lampang, and Chiang Mai, over the course of the 8 days. You can view the trip itinerary on either Imaginative’s or Intrepid’s websites (Explore Northern Thailand trip option), but basically we:

– Bangkok: Rode on a longtail boat, visited an open air market, saw the Giant Standing Buddha, visited the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha, and walked along Khao San Road

– Sukothai: Visited temples, bicycled around ancient monuments, picnicked with locals, stayed at a guesthouse and almost got caught in a flood

– Lampang: Went to an elephant conservatory were we rode an elephant, watched elephants bathing, and fed injured elephants (with prosthetic limbs!)

– Rural Chiang Mai: Made an offering to a monk, bicycled through valleys visiting a rice farm, mushroom farm, local sewing shop, taught English to Kindergartners, stayed with a host family, ate traditional Northern Thai food and experienced some of the music and dances customary to that part of the country, and visited a hot springs

– Urban Chiang Mai: Learned a few facts at the Cultural Museum, took a Thai cooking class and learned how to buy produce at a local market, experienced a Fish Spa and a foot massage, shopped the Night Bazzar, saw a lady boy (transvestite) cabaret, and bought some custom made clothing at a tailor

And throughout it all we experienced: long distance train and bus travel (even an overnight sleeping car on a train!), Rickshaws, Songteaus, Tuk Tuks, taxis, pit toilets, sleeping under mosquito netting, Buddhist culture, new foods, and the company of a few Australians, a couple from Belgium, a couple from Ireland, and a lady from England, as well as our phenomenal tour guide, Boom (a native of Thailand who grew up on a Chili farm on the West coast).

We even picked up a little bit of Thai, for instance: Sawadee ka – Hello/Goodbye; Ka poon ka – Thank you (both as said by a female and spelled phonetically).

I’m still in the midst of editing the photos I took (of which there were hundreds), so I’ll add in a couple of them to this post, later on.

It was an incredible trip and one that I will carry fond memories of.

“Sarah, wait!”

Okay, I’m here.

“Is that it? You went across the world and did a whole bunch of stuff, and that’s it?”

Well, I mean, that’s what we did in Thailand.

“Yeah but, anyone can go to Thailand and do those things. What did Thailand mean to you?”

Oh you mean, why did I go and what did I learn about myself from the experience?

“Yes, yes. Of course. You always reflect on things.”

Well, you are right. 🙂

Per the usual, one of my intentions of going on this trip was to reconnect with myself.

These last few years have been pretty transient and tumultuous for me due to a variety of reasons (e.g., grad school applications, back injury aftermath including the lawsuit, family relationships, loss of employment, etc.), and well, for me – the best way to get in touch with my inner self is to remove me from my surroundings and force me to be present in the moment, and to learn.

Perhaps serendipitously, I had Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (EPL) with me (phenomenal book by the way, if you haven’t read it), and even though S was by my side and shared many a conversation and beautiful moment with me, Gilbert’s writing in some ways could’ve been the codified version of the narration in my head.

For those who haven’t read the book, Gilbert experiences a heart wrenching divorce and travels to Italy, India and Indonesia in search of a sense of self and wholeness. So the section of her book on reconnecting with pleasure and desire in Italy, the one on devotion and spiritual renewal in India, and the one on finding balance in Bali, all rang true to me in that:

In these last few years I’ve had to really learn how to let pleasure in to my life. For years I had worked very hard with the idea that, like the proverbial ant, work came first and play came second. Suddenly life decided to take me off that rat race in both the form of a back injury and being laid off and I was forced to come to terms with my human yearnings for fun, adventure, and joy. Not that I hadn’t had these before, it was just that I didn’t appreciate them – I simply viewed them as weigh points in between times of intense work/diligence. So I’ve been learning how to allow myself languid pleasures, and pure fun.

Furthermore, even though I have wonderful people and relationships which bring me countless joy, I had to realize that I’m the primary caretaker of me and if I need more fun, more happiness, more elation, I can’t look to others in my life to make it happen. Sometimes self care means loving yourself and creating your own fun. My recently renewed passion for photography has really helped in that regard – it’s something deeply creative and technical, but also so incredibly fun and satisfying! Plus, I love being able to capture moments for myself and for others.

This also coincides with a bit of a romantic rebirth for me. Prior to dating Dan, romance lured me but relationships rang a death knell. Previously, I’d  been in some pretty disastrous involvements which had negatively impacted my self-esteem, body image, and sense of self. I won’t say all these personality aspects are 100% rosy now, but being with Dan has really allowed me to love both myself and others again. It’s also allowed me to come to terms with my human (and sexual) self as a adult, in ways I really can’t put into words. Suffice it to say, Dan has really helped me recognize what self and other love can be, and certainly our relationship, as well as the ones I share with my closest friends, have all really helped me to be more open to the love and joy that can be found in human connectedness. I am deeply grateful for these experiences and deeply committed to these individuals I love.

Furthermore, I am coming to understand the value in balance. I can’t have it all (or truly, as close to “it all” as I can get), without recognizing my needs across all the valid areas. I have physical needs (e.g., hunger), mental needs (e.g., to learn), spiritual needs (e.g., to feel at peace), emotional needs (e.g., to feel love) – and while I might be able to foist off or ignore a need for some amount of time, eventually they all cry for attention, and I must tend to them. In fact, it’s preferable if I try to tend to all of them a little bit at a time and keep the scales even, vs. drastically flip flopping from one to another.

And in acknowledging balance, I also have to allow myself to let go. It is incredibly hard for someone like me who relishes the structure and stability of plans, diligence, and ambition, to accept that the world is largely out of my control. It’s great that I feel empowered; it’s great that I want to play an active role in the world and in my life; but I’m still me – an individual who is subject to all the systems and processes of the world at large (e.g., political structures, organizational hierarchies, governments, etc.) and just things beyond my purview entirely (e.g., illness, catastrophe, weather, inconveniences, etc.). And though I still wrestle with the idea that my life is a much larger story greater than my most dedicated efforts at crossing off to do lists, I am starting to understand that: 1) my best is good enough, 2) there is always (except in rare cases, re: catastrophe) a tomorrow, and 3) I am the best advocate for myself (re: self-care).

And I’m sure there were more nuggets of awareness, but as you can see, EPL really provided a springboard for me. While we were flying across the Pacific, traversing the railways across rice paddies, riding the roads to Chiang Mai, and I was reading Gilbert’s thoughts, I was deep in a state of murky self-reflection.

In fact, perhaps the largest take away was a sense of inner peace.

After all the up and down and side to side of the last few years, my ego finally sat still and rested. The moment I remember it best was when I woke up to a beautiful sunrise somewhere about 2 hours outside of Bangkok on the sleeper train. I was one of the first folks in our group to wake up and I just laid there feeling very much still.

I rolled over to one side and gently drew the bright blue curtains to quietly reveal the soft glow of a pink and purple sunrise. I found my camera and snapped a photo, and in that moment I just knew that it was finally okay to let go of everything I’d experienced in the last few years and move forward. I’m not sure why there, why that moment, and why Thailand, but for whatever reason, internally I took a breath and made the first movement forward. I thought of Dan and felt very warm and comfortable and that’s when I knew that even though the future is a bit amorphous, things were going to be okay.

And so, if I hadn’t had the opportunity for so much dedicated self-time, I might not have been able pull all the pieces together and reach said conclusions.

Furthermore, being in a place like Thailand, once you’ve lived in a place like the U.S., just reminds you of the things you take for granted. For example:

– Western-style plumbing (you might laugh at this, but I seriously did not enjoy pit toilets, the lack of free toilet paper in public bathrooms, or outdoor showers – though the showers were significantly less offensive to me than the toilet situation)

– Emergency response (we sat in Bangkok traffic on the way to the train station and an ambulance had moved approximately 1/8 of a mile in 30 minutes – I sure hope the person who called in was okay)

– Education (while Thai’s can attend public schools housed in monasteries, they are certainly less able to educate kids with the aid of technology and cutting edge resources)

– Climate (while I’m not a fan of Texas’ hot summers, it sure beats having to constantly apply sunscreen and mosquito repellent on threat of Malaria or Dengue fever)

– Safety (I can walk my neighborhood for hours without fear of pick pocketing, mugging, or unwanted attention; I can also drive without having to wonder whether a Tuk Tuk or Moped will pop out of nowhere)

– Freedom (Thai’s deeply revere their monarchy, and while I respect that, I also appreciate my ability to speak freely about our government without fear)

– Food/Hygiene (while I LOVED the Thai food we ate on our trip, I was sad not to be able to eat raw produce or have cold drinks with ice)

Anyway…so that was Thailand through my eyes.

Have you ever been to Southeast Asia? If so, I’d love to hear your stories. And if you’ve never visited, I highly, highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading.

Always, S

September Reflections

I feel like I sky rocketed into fall this year; a bit of a jarring transition which came on rather quickly.

In August, the heat of summer continued. And to be fair, the month seemed to pass by in a blur with my birthday/ car accident at the start, followed up by two major dance competitions for Dan, and my decision to visit Thailand with my friend Stacey, and the resultant pre-travel arrangements (e.g., shots, gear, packing, purchases, etc.). (Speaking of, I’ll write a separate post on Thailand soon – as it definitely deserves its own mention.)

Fall hit me suddenly – when Stacey’s father picked us up at JFK Airport in NYC and drove  us along Long Island’s winding highways to her parents’ house for Rosh Hashanah dinner (my first RH dinner, by the way. I’d been to a Seder years ago, but discovered that the holidays are a bit different).

The trees were still green in Long Island, though starting to show a tinge of autumn color, but the air was brisk and mild. The temperature was probably around 65 F. It literally shocked my senses (after spending 8 days in the lush, humid climate in Thailand), but also reminded me of that familiar transition into the colder months. Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time of year.

And now it’s practically October, and I feel like I want to stop time and hold onto this season just a little bit longer.

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since Dan and I were in Chicago for Swing City. I thoroughly enjoyed that trip. The dancing was fun, but the time spent with him and his friends, and the moments when it was just us, were really wonderful. And to top it off we were surrounded by the trappings of autumn with colder temperatures, multicolor foliage, and that warm glow of mutual love.

Sigh…

Per the usual, my recent travels and the start of fall, have put me in reflection mode.

Firstly, it’s amazing to think of what’s happened in just this last year.

In fact, we started this blog in September 2011! Happy First Anniversary to RegularDaze. 🙂

But also, there have been so many events: my parents moving from Nevada to Texas, Dan and I venturing out to various dance events and exploring more genres of dance (his decision to focus more on West Coast Swing, and our journey into the Blues dancing community), our pre-holiday getaway to San Antonio, my travels across the U.S., celebrating our one year anniversary around Valentine’s Day, the end of my NYC lawsuit just before my more recent car accident, a couple of weddings (his co-worker, my college friend), his company experimenting with new projects and the beginnings of his search for next steps, my application process for PhD programs that didn’t pan out,  losing my job and delving deeper into photography, Dan’s efforts at improving his rock climbing, his trip to Dallas with dance friends and my trip to Thailand with Stacey… and more. It’s been an eventful 12 months.

Secondly, since I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, and Dan and I have had conversations about relocating in the near future, I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of a life we might have or want to have. For instance…

Were we to live in Thailand, our life would be filled with lots of cross-cultural exchange, and relaxed. We’d certainly have to learn a new language, figure out how to drive on the left-side of the road, get used to different standards of hygiene, and be vigilant about sun and mosquito protection. We’d also be able to eat fresh and spicy cuisine constantly, and centrally located to travel across Asia, able to live very well on little (due to the current exchange rate between the Thai Baht and USD), and far from everything and everyone that we’re familiar with.

Were we to live in New York City, our life would be fast-paced and diverse. We’d likely give up our cars and use public transportation, we’d shop more often at local retailers and attend more cultural events (plays, exhibits, talks, etc.), we’d need warm gear for the winters, and we’d be able to eat food from almost any part of the world at any given time of day. We’d need to find jobs where the salary increased significantly to maintain our current standard of living, or we’d need to decide to live simply (and probably in close quarters). We’d be closer to other Northeastern states and cities and the Atlantic, and able to stay in touch with friends and family.

Were we to live in San Diego, our life would be mild-mannered. We’d  be able to eat delicious seafood or visit the beach whenever we wanted, and keep our cars as we’d likely commute back and forth to work. We’d probably live in a place not too cramped or too sprawled. We’d be able to take advantage of outdoor activities year-round, and within a few hours drive could visit other Western/Southwestern states, or other parts of California. We’d likely find lots of Mexican cuisine, though slightly different than what we now have in Austin, and would stay abreast of developments with friends and family.

Those three locales are just examples of the Rubik’s Cube assortment of permutations my brain has been pondering of late.

I have no idea where we’ll end up together, but in keeping with the spirit of fall (and thereby the beginnings of change and transition), I enjoy considering various options and starting to align the mechanisms to move us forward.

Life really is a journey, and I think I’m finally starting to see it as more of an inclusive set of experiences, vs. a litany of items on a check list to achieve. I’m still goal-oriented mind you, but I’ve been trying to sit back and acknowledge the view from above a bit more.

Hope autumn is treating you well, wherever you may be.

Thanks for reading,

S

Constant Compression

Hi Guys,

I’ve started a sister blog to chronicle my experiences relative to my back injuries. You can find it here: Constant Compression

I have lots of thoughts, feelings and experiences to share on the topic and decided it would make sense to consolidate them in one place. I’ll continue to post related musings on Regulardaze, but for the majority of my back-centric commentary, please check out Constant Compression.

Thanks for reading,

S

Birthday Bash

Writing codifies things – puts an indelible mark on a once blank page (or screen), and makes them real.

And I desperately didn’t want to accept this as real – but I can’t deny it, and I can’t run from it.

So here goes…

I’m embarking on another personal injury lawsuit, this time in Texas.

On my birthday, a couple of weeks ago, I was rear-ended, and the impact caused injury. My car suffered some damage. Fortunately, Dan wasn’t in the car with me, but unfortunately, I am the one hurt.

As you might remember, I am on the heels of celebrating the settlement of my longtime NYC personal injury lawsuit (which lasted from September 2009 – June 2012). And now it’s back to the fray of legalities, insurance companies, medical providers, and physical and emotional upheaval.

Things have been difficult lately (re: physical and emotional upheaval), but I know I (we) have been through this before, and I know I (we) will get through it again (somehow). Dan, my parents, and close friends have been encouraging and supportive – and I know without a doubt that they will be indispensable to maintaining my fortitude during this experience, as I will be to them.

I can not recommend these circumstances to anyone – surely, there must be other means for learning about the legal system, the state of U.S. healthcare, the insurance industry, and one’s strength of character – but I can not deny reality either. The situation exists and I (we) must face it head on, again.

I haven’t found the silver lining in all this yet, and I definitely don’t know why it’s happening. I recognize the laws of probability/chance and being caught in a string of random, unrelated events, but I also acknowledge that I am the type who seeks meaning in everything. I value fitting the puzzle pieces of life into some sort of comprehensible whole. And in a puzzle each piece has its role; its purpose. I like taking experiences and thoughts, sorting them into digestible boxes, tying each box with a ribbon, and storing them in the categorized shelves of my mind.

Lately, my efforts at categorization are being continually thwarted by life events, and to be honest, it’s frustrating.

As I said above, I know I (we) have been through this before, and will get through it again. I (we) just don’t know quite what to expect, or what will become of it.

And yet, I (we) don another parachute and jump headfirst back into the land of the medically litigious.

Wish me (us) luck. It’s time for another journey.

Thanks for reading,

S