I am a teacher and aspiring writer, and keep a blog to keep up with writing and document the daily moments that make up my life. Working with my students & travel writing are my biggest passions. People, art, food, wine/spirits, and culture are other writing interests. Thanks for coming by!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Gratitudes

I got to marry the most wonderful person in the whole wide world. That's lucky.
We have such incredible friends and family, that's lucky too.

We got to get married in an incredibly beautiful place with our beloved lifelong friends as our ministers. Lucky.
I feel beyond blessed to have Abby (my niece), and Sophia (my goddaughter) in my life.
I feel very lucky, and incredibly grateful for my blessings.
May these blessings continue to pour forth and multiply.
Thank you God, for everything.


I feel so lucky that I got to live in on the North Shore of Oahu for six months. I even got to live right ON the beach, and for "work" I gave tours of tropical botanical gardens to people who came from all over the world, and ecstatic to be in Hawaii touring the beautiful gardens. I rode my moped to work every day (3 miles) and when I wasn't working I was beachcombing for shells, snorkeling, or catching the sunset. I will treasure those memories for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lucky Me

My life has felt like a roller coaster ride lately, and my surgeries and recovery time took a big toll on me. But my stitches come out tomorrow, and everything is going to be ok. The past couple ofweeks have given me an opportunity to reflect on how lucky I've been in my life, and how I've taken a lot of my blessings in life for granted. I want to say thank you right now to God, and the universe, and all the powers that be for everything I've been given. There's nothing like a health scare to put things into stark relief.
So right now, I want to take the time to go back in time and remember the moments that I feel very very lucky for having lived, and I look forward to so many more.

Kissing Minchu, one of the most special creatures I've ever met.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico ~ July 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When Life Throws You Curveballs

Last week everything was going so well. I was walking my 10,oo0 steps a day, work was getting into a good groove, and I was feeling (dare I say it?) happy. Things were finally starting to fall into place with my work routine, I started the walking-with-pedometer obsession, and things were going pretty well.
Then I went to routine check up last Thursday afternoon, only to be told that two of the moles on my back had to come off, like, "right then." Being terrified of needles and scalpels didn't help (although who's NOT terrified of those things?) but most of all, I just wasn't psychologically prepared to be getting surgery that day, even if it was outpatient surgery.
So I was brave, and I let them go ahead with the surgery. The shots numbed the pain, but I will tell you that there is NOTHING more creepy than feeling a doctor dig into your flesh with a scalpel, it's beyond a nightmare. In addition, although I didn't feel it at the time, the local anesthesia in my back wore off within a couple of hours, and I was in a whole lot of pain. The doctor didn't give me a pain med prescription, for that matter, he didn't give me much advice on taking care of my wounds whatsoever.
Either way, what felt like the longest two hours of my life finally ended and we got to go home. For about two days, the wounds were still really painful, and just in the last day or two, it's been a little better. I still have the stitches for another week and a half though.
So anyway, the point is, all it took for me to fall off the exercise wagon and fall off track in general toward making positive life changes was this unexpected surgery. Being in pain makes it hard to focus on anything else, but now that the pain has lessened, morale is still just really low. I still have to get the biopsy results of those first two moles, which is very nerve-wracking, and then as soon as I get the stitches out from the first two moles, I have to get another one taken off, which is bigger and will require a more in-depth surgical procedure.
How does anyone ever succeed in life with goals and aspirations when life is full of these kinds of obstacles? It's the really resilient people who succeed. The people who don't let anyone or anything get them down. I wish I was that kind of person. I want to be. But life can be hard sometimes. :(

Neat Things that Neat People are Doing....

I am constantly blown away by the incredibly creative things that people are doing out there in the world. This is something I came across this morning, and I just love it. I won't go into a ton of detail, the artist describes her project better herself. Check it out, these kinds of people inspire me endlessly!!!

Xo, Jeneka


Monday, October 18, 2010

A Wondrous Day in San Francisco

Yesterday we went to the de Young museum in San Francisco to see the current exhibition, "Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne & Beyond." I can't even remember the last time I saw a really great collection. Anyway, a museum day like this was long overdue, and we weren't disappointed. We saw some new (to us) Van Gogh paintings, which was a thrill of course. Rob & I have both been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, but since Van Gogh is Rob's favorite artist, he was pretty excited to see some more of his original paintings. We especially liked a still life he did of a simple vase full of flowers. The flowers were diaphanous orange, just glowing. The painting was an inspiration.
My favorite artist is Gauguin, I love his Tahitian landscapes and his other Tahitian studies. Although his collection on exhibit was not especially broad, it was still exceptional to get to look at the very paintings he painted while he was there. A couple of his Tahitian paintings were there, which was cool. I might like his Tahitian landscapes best of all though, and there weren't many of those there at all, if any. I liked how Gauguin used unusual colors, it gives some of his paintings a somewhat surreal effect.
What a life these paintings have led too, being shipped from city to city around the globe for the last 100 years or so. One my favorite things I learned from this exhibit was that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent about 9 months working together in the South of France near Arles. I knew that they were contemporaries, but I had no idea that they'd actually spent time together, working together. I'd like to learn more about their friendship, what that time was like, and maybe about how they inspired each other (or drove each other crazy.) Either way, I wonder so much about what that time must have been like.
Many other French impressionists and post-impressionists were included, including Pierre Bonnard, who, strangely enough, was the artist I was assigned to do a presentation on in French in my art history class when I was studying abroad in France. He had some really cool paintings which were large enough to adorn an entire wall. I read that he wanted to expand people's notion of art, and wanted to go beyond the traditional sized canvas and paint larger and smaller works. I guess he also liked painting furniture and other items that people didn't necessarily associate with art or painting mediums.
Renoir was also included in the collection (I'm not a big fan), and a Degas of a ballerina running up the steps toward ballet class.
Cezanne had a series of landscapes included in the collection too. They were dreamy, colorful depictions of the South of France near Aix-en-Provence. When I was back in France in the summer of 2000, I went to his atelier in Aix-en-Provence to see where he painted. It was such a sublime setting, nestled amongst lavendar and sunflower fields. It was a wondrous feeling to think that I was looking out at the same vistas that he saw when he painted those beautiful paintings.
We ended our day in San Francisco by going to Yummy Yummy's in the Sunset district for some steaming bowls of pho. It was a special day. I felt lucky to have lived this day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My first day of meeting my goal - 10,000 steps!

Today I finally met, and (and even exceeded!) my goal of walking at least 10,000 steps a day. I ended up walking 11,600 steps, which equals about 4.4 miles. Wow, that's a lot of walking! It felt really good to finally reach my goal today, now comes the hard part: doing it every day after this. :/
Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What a great surprise!

I logged onto my computer this morning, and noticed that I had a comment on my last post. As it turns out, Gretchen Rubin, the author of "The Happiness Project," wrote to me, saying that it was nice to see the positive things I had written about her book! Oh my goodness, I can't believe it! That is so incredible, especially for someone relatively new to blogging, I never expected anything like that to happen! My sister already bought the book and my mom is getting it too. I would have lent them my copy like we usually do, but since mine is on my Kindle, they have to get their own. :)We did the same thing when we read Eat, Pray, Love. It's always fun to share good books.
So, to give an update on my own "Happiness Project."
1. I did get the pedometer from my sister and walked twice this past week, each time I walked about 7,000 steps. Clearly there's a lot of room for improvement there, considering my goal is to walk 10,000 steps each day. But I have plans to walk today, and am going to make it a priority to walk every day this next week. In addition, I am going to incorporate at least one other class this week, and swim at least once or twice. The other class will be yoga, zumba or weights. I want to get a weekly routine down that I really stick to.
2. Clutter is still haunting me to some degree, but I have been making some progress. I donated two huge bags of clothes, and still need to donate more. I cleaned up my office area, but the area instantly became cluttered again due to several shipments of student books and materials. Although I've been delivering the materials as they come, as soon as I deliver some, I get more, so the boxes are a bit of a problem. I am working on finding a solution to this. I may just start putting the boxes in my trunk so they are ready for delivery.
3. Pursuing my creative endeavors: the first thing I did was start blogging again, and then I get a message from none other than Gretchen Rubin, the writer that inspired me to make these changes! If that's not a good sign, then I don't know what is! I've also been in touch with a friend of my mother's, Diane Covington, who is giving me guidance on getting back into writing. She said that Rob and I should join BATW, which stands for Bay Area Travel Writers, but first we need 4 recently published pieces. We have 4 so far, but not all would qualify as travel pieces, so we are working on that. I think we are going to review Orphan, the new breakfast place, and finally do our piece on OneSpeed as well. Since we'll be moving to Monterey in June, I'm sure we'll be inspired to do a lot more writing, with so many new places to discover and explore.
4. Making more of an effort at being a better communicator, and being a better friend. With work, my standard is that I return all emails and phone calls within 24 hours. Why is it so hard to do that in my personal life? After all, my friends matter more to me than work connections. However, I have decided that I will make every effort to return phone calls and emails within 24 hours and already, it is paying off. I am reconnecting with old friends, and feeling more connected to people. I feel very happy about this.
5. Showing gratitude. I'm not sure I included this in my last post, but I have a goal to write out gratitudes every day and tell at least one person what I love about them, or what I am grateful for about having them in my life. This may be in the form of a letter, an email, a phone call, or a face-to-face conversation, but either way, I am determined to do this.
6. Don't give up. I'm not sure that this was a focal point of my last post either, but I have made a difficult self-observation: I give up too easily. I gave up on my hula classes, which I absolutely loved, but the schedule was becoming too demanding. I have given up on countless diets and exercise routines. I have been giving up on things for too long. Now I see that there's a huge price to pay for giving up things you a) love or b) need to do. So I am making an effort to hang in there, and stick around to reap the rewards of not giving up on something, even when the going gets tough.
7. Drinking tea instead of coffee. This might be petty thing, but coffee has been incredibly hard to give up. However, I just feel better drinking tea instead. I don't get quite the energy boost from tea that I get from coffee, but I feel more calm, clear thinking, and my long term daylong energy is more evenly distributed instead of a huge energy boost, then a huge crash.
I still have many more "projects" to work on, but I feel inspired that I am off to a great start!
Yours truly,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mental Time Capsule - October 3, 2010

So many things on my mind. Today is Birdie's birthday. Also known as Piper Bobo Lacy, she was my best friend in college. She was kind of like a twin soul. She is in Denmark visiting her dad right now. It's her favorite place.
I just finished a new book on my Kindle. It was called "The Happiness Project." I'm not usually big on the self-help books, but I liked this one. It got me thinking on changes I want to make. The author spent 12 months working on making different changes in her life. Each month she worked on something different, things like tackling clutter, money issues, marriage, parenthood, exercise, writing, unfinished tasks/business, etc.
She was pretty methodical about how she tackled her projects, she had spreadsheets and charts of everything. Although I don't imagine I'd be quite as organized as her with all of the charts, etc., I do like the idea of making lists of projects.
The projects I'd like to tackle are:
1. Clutter. I spent all day yesterday organizing my office and creating student files. Just a few hours of work and such a huge sense of relief at knowing where every single important piece of paper is for each of my students. An extra added benefit: I inadvertently came across some of the things coming up with work that I was wondering about and had questions about, like our upcoming student portfolios which are due in December. It does pay to be organized, and just feels so much better.
2. Exercise. I was going to start an expensive diet this week but we can't afford it at the moment as we are still paying my grandmother back for some wedding debt we got into. So I am going the old-fashioned route and starting an exercise routine. My sister got me a pedometer, and I have a goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is supposedly the magic number of steps (or so) that it takes not to gain MORE weight...so I guess I should probably walking a lot more than 10,000 steps a day, but it's a start. I will continue swimming (my average is two or three times a week) and I want to add zumba and yoga into my routine too. But I will start with the 10,ooo steps a day, and see how that goes first. My friend Meghan has volunteered to be my walking buddy. So far we have walked once and plan to walk again in the morning.
3. Taking care of my health.
I have had so many health worries for so long, something which has been exacerbated by the fact that I haven't had health insurance for the last few years. It been incredibly stressful for me to be uninsured for all of this time, and I couldn't afford to get check ups out of pocket, it was too expensive. So tomorrow I am finally going to the doctor to get caught up on all of my routine check-ups. It's such a huge relief to finally be tackling all of my health concerns.
4. Stop putting personal dreams and goals last. Start bringing the things I love and enjoy back into my life. Finding balance in life and finding time for everything that's important to me has been something I've always struggled with. A lot of times the things I love to do are pushed aside for more pressing tasks. Work is important, and needs to be a priority, as it has been. So does cooking and cleaning and daily appts., errands, emails, phone calls and other tasks. However, it shouldn't be at the expense of doing the little things I love to do, so I am making these things (or some variation there of) a priority for at least one hour a day: writing in my journal, reading one of my favorite books or magazines, writing letters, blogging more often, taking photos, walking Coco, connecting with friends by phone or in person, and doing more handmade crafts like handmade cards, etc.
5. Making time to see my nieces and friends and family. We had my parents for dinner last Wednesday, and I think we are going to make a tradition of having family over for dinner on Wednesdays. I want to have Rob's dad German and his stepmom Dina over next. People are so busy on the weekends that I think weeknights are better.
6. Start writing articles again. Rob and I have been on hiatus with our writing/photography gig with Valcom news, but we want to get back into it to finally do the review on One Speed, and next, a great little breakfast place that just opened up called Orphan. We need one more article in our current portfolio to be able to apply for BATW (Bay Area Travel Writers), which is a network of freelance writers in San Francisco, and a great place to find out about new writing opportunities, especially in the travel writing genre, which is our passion and most exciting prospect.
7. Learn the ukulele. My dad and stepmom just gave me a ukulele for my birthday, and I am really excited to learn a few new Hawaiian songs.
That about wraps up my thoughts for the moment.
Onward and upward,