Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Of Friends and History

This trip to California took a totally different turn for me. I usually come for an event then visit my friend, JT. We talk and visit, drive down to the beach, hang out, generally comment on the state of the world, watch Netflix movies, and then I make my way back home.

This trip I did attend an event but I went to visit friends that lived much further away whom I hadn’t seen for many, many years (at least 10 in both cases.)

My friend who lives South of San Francisco and I were roommates in an apartment for a while back when we were both in college. I had met her brother a couple years earlier and our relationship just naturally followed when she came to go to San Francisco State University.

We’ve always kept in touch. I was at her wedding. She entertained my children in her pool in her backyard. I flew down to celebrate her 50th birthday.  On every occasion, it was as if no time and no distance had passed.

I took the Caltrain. That was a new experience for me. I lived in San Francisco for almost a decade, but I never had the occasion to take the train. Caltrain provides commuter rail service along the San Francisco Peninsula, through the South Bay to San Jose and Gilroy. She lives just north of San Jose so I took a 90 minute train ride through parts of California that I had never seen. She picked me up at the station, and after a long, hard hug, we started chatting as if we had just got off the telephone earlier that week!

It was wonderful to be there. I had to chance to see one of her sons who is now all grown up! We ate Thai food, swam in the heated pool, drank wine, and discoursed on the state of the nation. We went to the beach, watched the sea lions floating like driftwood, ate clam chowder and calamari, and played in the waves more than ankle deep in the ocean.

There was never any doubt, discomfort or distress. Every word, every pause, every silence was filled with our history, our connection, our yesterday and our now.

I then traveled by BART, with which I am highly familiar, to a station with which I am highly familiar – El Cerrito Del Norte! That’s where I take the train to visit my cousins! I texted my cousin from the station to let her know that I was ‘passing through’ but probably wouldn’t get to see them this trip. What a delight it was for me to see my friend Michalle after all these years!

I first crossed paths with Michalle when I was active in the Broadcast industry and she was the Marketing person for a local radio broadcasting group. We didn’t chat much, but I became much closer friends with her when she opened a store across from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was called ‘The Angel Store.’ Her store had crystals and talismans, candles and cards, and a machine that read auras. I wandered in there one day with a friend from school who is also into Metaphysics and Spirituality, and there she was!

She eventually left town and moved up north. We still kept in touch now and again by phone. In 2002, she called and asked me to be in her wedding! It was both a privilege and an honor to be a member of her bridal party. We had a wonderful time and promised to keep in touch. This time was a little easier because now there was Facebook.

On Facebook, I had the opportunity to follow her work and her travels. She had adopted a bunch of special needs babies, she was working and moving around trying to fill their needs. I followed her trials and tribulations and would even call and personally check-in on occasion. She came to Vegas once, and we had lunch. But Saturday, at the station, it was that instantaneous moment of recognition, a long, hard hug, and then right into conversation that we could have started days or even minutes before.

These are the days of our lives. Live them well. Love your neighbors. Travel often. Hug one another. Celebrate your friends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Dream is Free

It turns out that in the past several weeks I have been challenged beyond my comfort zone and I have responded DIFFERENTLY this time. Historically, things come to me so easily that as soon as something gets hard, I quit. I don’t want to work TOO hard for it. My first instinct is to opt-out every time. I mean, there are consequences, but my first response is always to just QUIT.

I’m a substitute teacher in our local school district. My contract expires in February. I was willing to let it go. I didn’t get much work this year anyway, so I was ready to split. However, I got this really sweet gig which is kind of a permanent part-time position, however, in order to get (keep) this job, I had to renew my license. And to renew my license, I had to study, take and PASS (with more than 70%) THREE (3) EXAMS! 

I LIKE my new job. I’m actually making a difference in my new job. It’s even enough cash to keep me in the black on my bank balance. And if I want to stay with it, I would have to push through to learn and memorize several key facts in order to pass three exams.

The old me would have quit. Sure, the gig is sweet, but I would have to STUDY. And there was a bunch of stuff I didn’t know! Did I want to work for it? Did the NEW me think it was worth it? So the NEW me tried to recall what tactics I’ve used to study in the past. It finally came to me, having rediscovered those tactics, I set out to ‘Get ‘er done.’ Whew. Two weeks and four days later, I sat for the exams and passed them all at least 10-15% higher than the required result.

That made me feel good.

Spanish. I’ve been learning Spanish for about a year now, on and off. I decided to commit to getting at least 90 days in a row. The app I’m using keeps track. I’ve been doing this for a while, so although I didn’t have a 90-day streak, I thought I was doing pretty well. I realized, however, that I have come to the end of all the Spanish I have ever heard or learned, or could glean from my previous study of Latin. That was at about day 65, and it was getting somewhat challenging. My option, of course, was to quit. 

I figured I could pick it up again later, if I felt like it, until I remembered why I was learning Spanish. First, the most important reason, is that my eldest nan-child speaks it and I wanted to be able to converse with her beyond ‘Hello, how are you?’ Second, because I am looking forward to travelling in several Latin American countries, I’d like to be able to speak the language.  And, finally, I believe learning another language is a great idea! So, as I got more and more frustrated and was ready to quit…I almost let 24 hours go by – but, nope, I committed, let’s do this.

I am happy to say that I am currently on Day 90. And I’m still at it.

The last, which is the opposite of what I have done so far, is to ACTUALLY QUIT something that no longer serves me - The Casino. This is by far the hardest decision to make, considering that up until now, quitting is something I do well.

I wasn’t hanging out all the time, but it was just too many times for my budget. I have exciting plans this year. I have things I want to do. I have places I want to go. Yes, I win big sometimes, but I’d be having so much fun I rarely took much of it home. I need healthier options when I’m celebrating. I need healthier alternatives when I’m sad. I need new friends. 

I am only two weeks into this one. I figure I would have been there at least four times by now. However, based on the success of the other two…

Is this what it means to be a grown up? I thought I was doing a good job. I was taking responsibility for my actions. But what actions? 

I thought about some things I have done in the past and realized these issues have come up for me for YEARS. I see things that I didn’t follow through on because as soon as they got tough I quit. Or, I would convince myself that I didn’t want to do that anyway, so let’s try this (next thing) instead.

This all came because I was trying to figure out the reason that I am not making any notable progress in my entrepreneur venture and wondering what to do about it. Did it get too hard? Yup. Is there stuff I need to learn? Yup. And did I quit? Almost...

So many times I’ve heard ‘The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.’ And now I understand what that really means to me. Back at it. 

It's right what they say, the dream IS free, but the hustle is sold separately.