Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dream a little dream...

To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.
Bernard Edmonds

One of my friends just did something really brave... she followed a dream. She followed a big dream. I love feeling a courage in a friend's heart and seeing a person who refuses to settle in life. These friends of mine are my inspirations and I hope this blog entry does her justice. Good luck Helen!

An interview about dreams and happiness:

1) What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Actually, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be. I just knew where I wanted to be. Growing up, my parents brought us around the Embarcadero everyday to “play”. Surrounded by buildings as tall as the sky, we would run up and down the streets around Embarcadero 1, 2, and 3. What can I say, we grew up on the streets of SF. Since my earliest memories, I had always admired the offices in the Financial District. I knew one day, I would work on the 20th-something floor, in an office of my own, with floor to ceiling windows. I would walk into work wearing a power suit and holding a power brief case. HAHA.

2) What do you want to be now? How are you following you dream?
Now, I want to be a fashion designer. I want to work for a designer label and design for a brand that exemplifies who I am.
In order to follow my dream, I gave up my silver-platter life in San Francisco and moved across the states for an internship at Betsey Johnson. I have never done anything of this sort and couldn’t be happier to have made this move.

3) What made you decide to do that?
I always knew I wanted to live in New York. It has always been on my life list of things to do. But I never would’ve given up my life in San Francisco for just any opportunity to be out there. A month before my 27th birthday, I wrote down what I wanted in life. What would make me happy? And I realized that although I wanted to move to New York, I needed a great big push. So I applied for an internship to work for a company that I followed in style, statement, and passion. When I got the internship, I made the decision to move out to New York.

4) What challenges do you think you'll face by pursuing this dream?
Hmm, challenges -- for one, I’ve never really lived on my own before. I was born and raised in SF and have always had a strong network whenever I made any life choices. Even when I left for college, a handful of good friends from high school joined me at UCDavis.
The biggest challenge I see is letting go of my security blanket, my safety net, and building my New York network from scratch. It’s a weird thing to not have the people you depend on be there for you when you go through life's ups and downs. Even though all my bests are a phone call away, I don’t have anyone right now to explore New York with. No one’s here to experience the every day and I have to remember that.
...How do you plan to overcome them?
I plan to put myself out there and build a strong network in New York. It’s going to be hard to overcome the urge to find a rock and hid but it’s something I’m pushing myself to do. Good thing I have never been one to shy away from obstacles. I hope to make a few good friends within these next couple of months.

5) What is it about this dream that makes you happy?
I’m happy with the fact that I’m doing this. That I took myself out of my comfort zone and “left the nest”. If all I have are these next 3 months in New York, I would be content with how far I’ve grown. At least I pushed myself out the door and tried something new. At least I answered my “what-ifs” and squished my curiosity of the unknown. But let me state, I will be happier if I was offered a full-time, well paid, salaried, position at Betsey Johnson. I want to stay in New York after the internship but I would only stay if I was offered a golden opportunity.

6) What 3 things would you take with you to a deserted island?
Never really thought about this.
1) A plastic bucket to build sand cities (entertainment)
2) A hammock
3) A friend

7) What makes you happy on a daily basis?
Simple acts of kindness. Honestly, I smile when I see strangers helping each other out when they least expected it. The little things really mean a lot and it’s nice to know that people still care about each other in a world full of individuals. I love this commercial from Liberty Mutual “”

8) You're going to be all alone for 5 days--how do you entertain yourself (be g-rated)?
These couple of days has taught me that I need to be on the move. Venturing out and seeing things keep me sane. I like to work. I like to keep moving. And now that I’m in New York alone, to keep me occupied, I’ve been exploring the city and trying new things. I have to say, it’s not as scary as I thought.

9) Have you ever had the 'blues'? What'd you do?
Yes, I’ve had the “blues”. Though I’m naturally bubbly and find joy in the things I do, I have experienced a few “funks” in my life. The key for me is to keep going; to keep moving. You can’t let yourself think about the “what-ifs” and the “should’ves, could’ves, would’ves”, you just have to accept the situation and move on. I know it’s hard at times, but I find that that’s the only way to get over the blues.

10) What is something you are grateful for that you can always count on to make you happy?
JP, my boyfriend. I’ve never liked the notion that your boyfriend/husband/significant other completes you. I think the idea of it is wrong, that you should be whole with your own self. But JP makes me happy. I am grateful to have someone who understands me as much as he does. To support me as I travel 2,600 miles away for something as crazy as a childhood dream. To have a long distance relationship go on without an end date in sight. A lot of people would not stand for it. I’m not sure if he knows it but I rely on him when I can’t find happiness in my life.

I'm pretty lucky to have such inspirational friends. I must also pay tribute to my friend Sara who crossed an ocean to go to school so she could pursue a degree in contour fashion. My friend Manda, despite her fears, is having her first baby. Teresa who after some agonizing months of decision-making decided to bank on love and moved to New York as well. And my friend Strom who is taking great risks with his band and pursuing his love of music.

Dear little shit: conversations with my daughter

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.
Dr. Haim Ginott

After working at the CDC and after teaching 3rd graders "literacy" as well as a few other things (like gangs are bad), the idea of parenting and the importance of being a role model burrowed into my mind and took shelter there far away from the potential terrible parents in the world. Children are so observant of things we would never realize because we're not as impressionable as they are... adults are more fully formed. Like wet cement, we have been exposed and solidified into the forms that our environments have created for us. (We can try as much as we can to recreate ourselves in ways but unless we go beyond our existing boundaries to find new experiences and new meanings, most of who we are is dictated by the life and surroundings we choose for ourselves). Children are like that wet cement; every groove on the bottom of your soles can make an impact on who they will become. Maybe hard grooves can be smoothed over if they're taught the proper ways to cope with them and they can learn to smooth out those rough surfaces; or maybe they will carry with them ingrained patterns and rougher textures for the rest of their lives.

One generation of adults helps to form the next generation of adults. We have to focus on who we are and then think about the type of people we want that next generation to be. Who they become will be a reflection of who we are now.

I have definitely developed patterns I learned from my parents. And I missed out on some of the tools in life that could have really helped me along the way cause I wasn't exposed to them. Little moments will happen in my life--say an argument with a friend, a dispute with a neighbor or stranger, a disagreement with Clint--and I wonder how my kids would be influenced if they were here to witness these. So I have been focusing a lot on how I want to settle disputes and how to be fair. I've been thinking about how I can better cope with problems so my kids will have great coping strategies. You can tell them all you want how they should be but they're like monkeys--they will learn to live their lives based on how you lives yours. So don't fuck up.

I've started to think about the types of conversations I want to have with my daughter...

(-or son. 'daughter' just sounds catchier. And no, I'm not pregnant.) well as focus on how I can internalize these conversations now so maybe I'll never even need these conversations; she or he will learn these from the actions Clint and I take in life.
I've decided some of my blogs will be focused on these future conversations. And one of the things I want to work on I discussed in an earlier blog: 'Be fair-judge less'.

So... here goes.

Dear little shit;

I grew up watching a lot of my friends judge people based on his or her differences. It felt wrong but I went along with it sometimes. But I hope you will grow up understanding that people are just shells. Our skin, our freckles, our moles, our hair color... these are all things people cannot control about themselves and shouldn't be ostracized for. We're all just shells; the things we put on our shells and the ideas we fill our shells with are all different though and we can learn from these differences.

I'm working on being more fair, looking past preconceived notions and prejudices and understanding what makes each person different--and then being sympathetic to those differences. It's a step above the basics of avoiding judgment based on our shells but any higher level of tolerance I can achieve, the better. Hopefully this will rub off on you as you grow up, meet new (strange) people, and experience (odd, eccentric, fantastic) scenarios in life.

I think one of the reasons this particular lesson affects me is because since moving to England I've faced more racism than anywhere else in this timespan. (OK Spain was rather racist but in an almost endearing way; they called us "La Chinetas". No one was mean or cruel, we just happened to be a little more exotic than what the townspeople of Burgos were used to.) It would be really easy for me to turn this around and say something about England or the British... but that wouldn't be fair. And it wouldn't change the cycle of racism but instead perhaps perpetuate it. Being with Clint (if you noticed, your dad is white) I wonder what kinds of intolerance our kids will face since they will be mutts. It's hard enough being a pure-bred but will mutts have it more or less difficult?

If we can instill in you a habit of tolerance early, I think many other doors will open easily for him or her. You'll learn more about different cultures and different schools of thought. You'll have a positive outlook on the world. You'll learn to accept people of all different backgrounds and expand her understanding of the world! Hmm, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself... and ahead of our future child. But I have hig hopes and big dreams and I hope you're ready for them all!

(Again, no I'm not pregnant.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

.resolutions and revolutions: part 2.

The block of granite which is an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
Thomas Carlyle

A follow up to my Resolutions post! We're about to hit the two-month mark. How many of your resolutions have you kept? Are you at the gym with the rest of the newly-resolved-to-have-a-model's-body-herd who're cooly watching a TV or reading a magazine while they hobble on those ellipticals? Or maybe you're hard-core and you've hired a personal trainer. Have you vowed to have less stress in your life or promised to make more time for yourself? Are you really volunteering more? Either way, some people, many people, will hit a point in the next few months where their resolutions falter and inevitably old habits conquer new resolve.

So here are some things I've learned that might help keep you strong to achieve your resolutions.
1) Don't make any--that completely defies my last blog. In fact we shouldn't even count this as an option...

1) Be accountable--have a buddy who has the same resolution so you can work on it together or just tell a friend and ask them to pester you incessantly about it until you hate them or have finally internalized your resolution. (Remind yourself why you asked your friend to be your accountability buddy so you don't take their persistence personally.. after all, you are your own asshole.)

2) Have a plan--prepare yourself for the long road that resolutions are! Habits take on average 21 days to become habitual... prep yourself for intense habituation in the next 21 days and then prep yourself for the next 3 months... the next 6 months... the next 12 months... Imagine your workout in May, then your jogging path in  August, etc. Stay focused on those goals. It's easy to plan for the next week at the gym but when you visualize long term goals, you'll be less likely to get discouraged after a week where you couldn't stay on track.

3) Details--include the details into your plan. Don't just say you'll eat healthier and then stuff your face with a deep-fried chip drowned in high-fructose-corn-syrup-dense ketchup and expect to believe that's your last one damnit! Make a list of healthy foods you want to incorporate into your diet. Examples? Sweet potatoes, asparagus, dried fruit, quinoa.... then plan a few recipes around these healthier foods and make a goal you'll make these recipes at least 3 times a week until it gets easier. If your goal was to volunteer more, think of groups you'd like to be more involved with. Then plan for one day a month to work with them. If your goal was to be more organized, start with something small where you can really focus on the details of organization--a small planner, a more organized purse, a more organized desk. In fact, just cleaning all that shit out of your life is a great start.

4) Visualization!--visualize those key moments when you will implement these steps. Imagine yourself in past situations that led you to be inpatient... then imagine how you could have played this scenario differently, less impatiently. Store this little memory clip away for future potential bitch moments and you might be able to keep yourself patient next time.

5) Mantras--Cool easy mantras can be really helpful. My favorite that I have used for the last few years is 'Never settle'. This mantra has helped me with my dating life (and I didn't settle, did I?), my professional life (blog on professional advancements to come soon) and my everyday choices. (Some other good mantras I use: Keep learning! [I hate being ignorant about things so I continually try to learn--my problem right now is retaining all those things]; Do everything 100% [this one helps me with CrossFit]; and Be fair [when I find myself in a situation where I would normally be quick to judge someone].)

Hope these tips help in your continual evolution and your progress with your resolutions! Hope you haven't given up on them already... if you have, it's not against the rules to restart the New Year now, ya know.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Meat Athletes

Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.

Now that we have another year and some ahead of us here in the UK, we decided to have a second go at the Athens marathon in November. Last year, we decided in mid-summer that we would try and run our first marathon. Not only were we short on time but we were very unprepared. In the end, we had to bail because I started working a job that made it impossible for me to train and Clint was so busy at work he barely had the time either.

So now that it's February and we can give ourselves a full 8 months to train, my biggest concern is my diet. I have always told myself that I can do anything an omnivore can do. Proper nutrition will happen with whole foods and variation. But for the last few years, with a workout scheme that continues to advance and performance levels that are not, my diet and protein intake have become a bigger concern for me than in the past. Mac Danzig is a vegan ultimate fighter and he used to be a tremendous inspiraiton. But last year, while researching vegan diets and protein for vegetarian athletes, I found out he relied on plant protein supplements such as Vega from time to time for a protein boost.

I was also disheartened to hear a friend of mine quit her pescatarian diet and converted to the Paleo diet after a doctor that subscribed to the Blood Type Diet told her her blood type would not support a vegetarian diet. Just so happens she is the same blood type as me. She's been converted to the Blood Type Diet now that her symptoms of fatigue and slow recovery have faded since her conversion. We have similar symptoms but I don't quite buy in to the idea that blood type determines your diet... at least not yet. However, I am intrigued and I am very concerned about whether or not I am getting enough protein and if I'm even absorbing all the protein I do ingest. I'd really like to believe that I can do anything (physically) as a vegetarian.

The other day though, I came upon a blog that might be my new inspiration. The blog is called 'No Meat Athlete' and the author is a vegetarian athlete who has run 6 marathons and is now focusing on ultramarathons. He posts some very familiar recipes (by familiar, I mean either I've seen a similar recipe at 100 Cookbooks or I've conjured up something similar myself) as well as some great advice on running adn recovery.

Lately, I've been craving protein... when I say craving, Imean I'm blood-thirsty for fish, chicken, babies, you name it. So having this blog to read can help me stay focused and motivated and remember, other people do it too. It's like having an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor but for meat.

I'm hoping in November I can post a blog, either about my spectacular(ly high) time in Athens or at least the strides I have made in training and with CrossFit. Thanks Matt!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sometimes you have to stop and observe the architecture

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Every now and then between 5:30 and 6:30pm, I find myself mumbling, "I hate Cambridge". Between the chilly walk to the bus stop, the perpetually late 5:50 bus, and the long 12 mile drive home, my resentment eventually bubbles up a bit. However, my relationship to Cambridge is purely business--I work here. And because of that uni-dimensional relationship with Cambridge that is colored by stressful long days, it is difficult for me to fully appreciate the fact that I work near Darwin's alma mater.

But the other day I was walking back to work from lunch... and as usual a bit of sun broke up what is usually a grey day. A little bit of dazzling sun poked out from behind some brick buildings, creating a glistening silhouette of a row of 'Mary Poppins' chimneys, and I had a happy little glow inside. I don't know if it was the sudden feeling of sun on my face that I hadn't felt in the last 13 months of winter (maybe an exaggeration, but I don't remember much of a summer) or maybe it was the fact that I started to see all the neat little quirks about Cambridge. I saw the little statues carved into the sides of buildings that have been there for maybe hundreds of years, reflecting the culture of that time. I saw the old apartment buildings that sat on top of modern department stores that still retained the same bricks they were originally built with. And I saw hundreds of years of students and faculty that walked in and out of King's college....

That is the neighborhood I work in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Gwen likes to nuzzle with me when we go to sleep while Willoughby likes to take shelter underneath the bed. They both like to know where you're going even if they don't really care to follow. Willoughby likes to hide in the clean towels and nap there. Gwen has eaten holes into the dry food bag. They both jump to your side if they hear you turn on the faucet. They're slowly but steadily making little stinky kitty places in my heart. I get a little sad sometimes thinking about Otto, Timmy and Duchess but there's not a whole lot I can do about that. Except give these little mongrols good homes. (I think we saved them from those hippies... they were very nice but I think Gwen and Willoughby like living with us better)




Monday, February 8, 2010

Purrfect full house.

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.
Jeff Valdez

After months of joking and talking about it, we finally got kitties! There's nothing like coming home to a cute lil furry face staring up at you waiting for a pat on the head :) We finally have a full house and it is full of loooove and meows.

Gwen... smaller than her brother but full of authority.

Willoughby... a bit 'daft' but in a happy-go-lucky kind of chipper way.

They're both fascinated by faucets and the mysterious liquids that come out of them...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Prescious moments

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.

French Proverb

I was thinking about my blog this morning as well as the myriad of websites in this world that really have no purpose except as an outlet for people to express a random thought (i.e. Twitter, Facebook). So I thought, what if I could transform my blog into a Twitter-esque site with a purpose? Instead of random posts and musings, the site would have a direction--posts would have to be about gratitude.

And then today as I was reading my Happiness Project newsletter, the author (Gretchin Rubin), noted a site just as I had described! It's call ThankfulFor and you can find some public gratitude expressions here: My one qualm with this is that people will update with vague and generic expressions. Yes, everyone is thankful for your husband or wife or sunny day. But the musings I am most interested in are the ones people would never think of because they're unique to that person so they don't even think about them as things to be thankful for because they're not universal, profound thoughts. For example, I just hopped on the site and my favorite one is: My cats who sleep on my desk and calm me down just by looking at them. I love this quote because it is so simple and for anyone who is a cat lover, they will understand completely what she means by this. It's a unique feeling only to Ingrid or to cat lovers' but it can be so overlooked sometimes because it's not an overarching umbrella expression. And yet it is so quietly profound... Also, it's easy to remember that you are grateful for life, or your spouse, or family, or house...but oftentimes, we forget what that really means because it is so cliche. We forget what that gratitude feels like because it's so often talked about. However, the small reminders of our easy/beautiful/comfortable lives are what we take for granted the most.

A while ago I wrote about my commute home and how during my walk from the train to my house, I would always see a family of ducks crossing Back Hill Lane. It's a fairly busy lane but all the cars would stop and let them pass and pedestrians stop and watch. I love this moment--it is a prescious moment and a graceful way for mother nature to remind us we should slow down in life and enjoy the little things in the midst of what could really be a mundane task.

More prescious moments I love:
-Walking into the Houston's house and hearing little Kyle scream when he sees me, like a prepubescent girl at an 'N SYNC concert
-Watching really fat pigeons trying to land on really skinny tree limbs--a thankful reminder that life is funny; don't take it too seriously.
-Reminiscing via pictures--not the pretty posed ones but the candid shots that remind me of moments and feelings that can't be contained in 4x6 glossy. (Examples-picture of the first time Clint came and sat down to chat with us girls at Manda's rehearsal dinner; picture of Sunny and me making pig faces at the A's game; picture of Alex, my costa Rican bus driver who called me China (spanish accent), picture of Matt and his beer-bottle-love in Bodega...)
-Doing dishes with Clint, or making him some tea, or listening to him fill the bath for me... cause maybe real love is in knowing and considering a person in little loving ways.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's a small world after all

The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
Maya Angelou

Where in the hell is Matt Harding you ask? He is everywhere (not in the omnipresent, creepy way, but in the literal he-traveled-the-world-and-it's-all-documented-in-5-second-clips way). My brother sent me this video in 2008 and after my mood the last few weeks, I thought I would revisit this for a pick-me-up. What I love is how simple this video is; it doesn't preach or spout philosophies on how you should live life but if you don't forward it on to 12 people you'll burn in hell. Instead, this video helps remind me why I have faith in humanity in short video clips of the world. And it helps remind me about the simple pleasures I enjoy and why I do some of the things I do--because there are people everywhere just like me, and some need a little help. After watching this, you can't help but feel like the world isn't this big, awful place (which is how I've been feeling lately). Maybe there is something within each one of us that binds us to one another, and the world is full of people who are all actually the same. We just speak in funny words in different places and that sometimes makes communication difficult and problems inevitable...

But everyone everywhere can dance. I'm thankful for videos and people like Matt who remind us that one little person is capable of doing a lot. And that one big world can be seen and united in a dance (hmm, perhaps WWIII can be avoided with a WW-DO: World Wide Dance-off?).

(Leave a comment if you have any favorite moments! I love the dog in Kuwait!)

And Outtakes!