365: Day 16 – Busy Wednesdays

365: Day 16 – Busy Wednesdays

To sit in front of a screen and type up something was among the last things I wanted to do tonight. Wednesdays are my busiest days and I am mentally drained by the time late evening arrives. I was tempted to write self-pitying myself, but I erased those words because I don’t want something negative on this public journal of mine. Let’s focus on the positive.

While nothing can immediately cure my exhaustion, this writing exercise has given me an opportunity to reflect on another feeling: pride. Not pride in the negative sense, but the kind of pride that comes with a sense of accomplishment. My exhaustion is a product of my commitment to my work and my determination to deliver an excellent product. Right now I am tired because I am trusted with many responsibilities and I delivered on the trust placed in me by focusing my concentration on performing well. Don’t worry, I’m not deluding myself into believing I’m creating the next iPhone or launching a SpaceX rocket. I am simply reaffirming to myself that I have a role to play in this life and that this life has a purpose; and I must honor this with my work and take pride in it.

So I’m glad I wrote a little something today. It has realigned my perspective! On that note, I read somewhere that when you’re in a bad situation you should write all the bad things down so that when you leave that situation and look back on it, you don’t fool yourself into thinking that everything was all rosy. On some level I understand that article’s point, but fore the most part I disagree. If you’re not careful and only focus on the negative you’re going to always find a reason to leave and never give yourself the opportunity to triumph over difficult situation: you’ll merely be quitting every time.

I have been very blessed in my life, but like everyone else I may face challenges from time to time. I want to be the type of person that looks at those challenges as opportunities to rise to the occasion.

365: Day 13 – Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins and Piano

365: Day 13 – Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins and Piano

In character or in interviews, there is a certain elegance to his words that can only come from a man who has an appreciation for literature, art, and music. One of my favorite scenes of his is when Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes plays the piano in his papal suite. A film review described his portrayal of Pope Benedict XVI as “lonely and bookish, with a teasing wit and a taste for elegance.” You may think me strange, but I would be flattered if these same words were used to describe me. Looking through Anthony Hopkins instagram only reinforced this for me. The videos of him playing the piano are beautiful and his outlook on life is lovely. They inspired me to dim the lights, play some Chopin Nocturnes, and write a little about it.

Moments of solitude save for books and a piano for me to play on, have been childhood dreams I have never grown out of. I find solace in the solemnity of solitude.

365: Day 12 – Spreading my wings in Encino

365: Day 12 – Spreading my wings in Encino

It had been a while since I allowed myself a directionless walk–no planned route, distance, or time: a most pleasurable experience in any city. I’ve been holed up all these weeks just worried sick about the pandemic. Today I ventured out and walked about the neighborhood (I currently live in Encino, a neighborhood of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley).

It was a glorious afternoon! Under the canopy of oaks I removed my mask and inhaled the fragrant Jasmine all around me. I was in heaven and loving every second. I took in experiences like these practically daily when I was constantly running. Oh, how I miss those times! Whenever I think of California, I see oaks filtering the beautiful sunlight with the blue sky teasing behind the foliage. There is far more to California and Los Angeles than the palm tree lined sprawl of broken dreams of stardom. Of the many topics I desire to write about, showcasing my perspective of my beautiful city and state are among my favorite. I remember a couple of years ago a friend from Michigan was visiting and I dragged my poor friend on a five-hour drive to squeeze all of my favorite scenes of the city.

The scene above is of the street behind my home and the two below are when I was at the top of the hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley and the mountains on the other side (the appear far away in the pictures because I used a wide angle). Behind me are the more famous parts of Los Angeles, Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. The Valley looks so peaceful from here, but out towards the buildings is the infamous 405 and 101 freeway interchange that has the honor of having the worst traffic congestion in the nation.

But let’s forget about traffic for minute and think of the oaks, the sunny skies, and the sweet-smelling Jasmine.

365: Day 11 – Wonton Soup

365: Day 11 – Wonton Soup

“Did you take any photography courses? This blogger is saying she wants to start taking food pictures, but that her pictures aren’t that good.”

I’ve never take a photography course, but I did read a lot about, looked at works of other photography enthusiasts, and had lots of practice. I seldom pick-up my camera now, but this question made me go straight to my camera and put on the 50mm lens. I knew exactly what I wanted to take a picture of.

I took a picture of my dinner, enjoyed my delicious dinner, and then opened up my laptop to download the pictures off my camera. I had forgotten what a joy this all was for me. I’ve taken tons of pictures throughout the years of delicious foods and lovely places.

This is the start of the long Memorial Day weekend for us and I left my camera ready on my desk. Let’s see what else I can capture this weekend!

365: Day 9 – Personal Finances

365: Day 9 – Personal Finances

I originally came here today to write a rant about needing the serenity prayer because of people from work and at times because of family and personal relationships too. Instead I chose to take a deep breath and be grateful for all those people in my life.

Instead I’ll write about personal finances and my continued efforts to improve in this area. I went through a phase of spending money like there was no tomorrow. It took me to the best restaurants, fancy hotels, and opera houses and concert halls throughout the world. It was an amazing time, but a highly irresponsible one. Eventually it sent my finances crashing down until someone saved me. This person knows who they are and I want them to know that I will be eternally grateful for it and promise to honor that action by being responsible with my money from now on.

So now I find myself closely tracking my finances, working hard to repay my debts, and being far more scrutinizing of my purchases. In the last few months I’ve purchased a new Apple Watch and a new iPhone. In both cases I did so only after my previous ones were completely dead and both times I did not purchase the top of the line model. Instead I did a spreadsheet each time and compared pros and cons and made a very informed decision. Yes, I missed out on the latest and greatest, but I felt much more satisfied with my maturity and no buyers regret. Years ago I would buy the latest model of each every single year.

I may expand upon these at a later time, but for now I wanted to share the resources I use to educate myself and keep me on track.

  • Dave Ramsey: his blog, his podcast, and all his books.
  • WhiteBoard Finance (YouTube Channel)
  • Mint.com (website to track your finances)
365: Day 8 – Opera, my passion

365: Day 8 – Opera, my passion

Several years ago I bought a few used books on French impressionism and when I got home a slip of paper fell out of one of them: a short obituary on the previous owner that ended with “…patron of the arts and life-long lover of opera.”

I hope that after a long life someone can write the same about me in my obituary. Opera has thus far been a life-long passion of mine. Photography and food–my other loves–are subjects that have saturated this modern world of social media and have made them thus less special to me.

But opera…now that’s special. Classical music in general, but opera in particular. I am dumbfound by how orchestrated pressure waves travelling through the air take hold of my memory, do with my heart rate what they wish, and make me smile, laugh, get angry, and weep. How the vast majority of the population manages to escape its effects is incomprehensible to me.

Countless times I have excitedly talked about the subject to curious friends and acquaintances and invariably I see the politest of smiles form on their faces, feigning interest in my words not having the courage to crush my excitement. I thank them for their politeness, but the subtlest crushing of my joy is inevitable. I only hope that in my old age, I find another unusual soul who will call me up to tell me about a new recording they came across or a something new they read in a book on the subject.

Who out there reads up on the works before a performance, wants to discuss them afterwards, and regularly reads up on the subject? I can only wonder…

365: Day 7 – Seeking Faith

365: Day 7 – Seeking Faith

In this day and age it has become shameful to believe in God. I grew up Catholic and for several years now I’ve grown apart from my faith. Seriously doubting everything. Questioning if Christianity is just the latest fable in human history about supernatural beings.

I once again find myself reluctant to share something because I fear the eye roll or the ridicule. The truth is, I have gradually started to miss my faith. I feel as if there is an emptiness in my life I didn’t realize was hovering over me. I realize this is a conversation with myself I need to continue having over an extended period of time and not just a quick blog post, but it’s been on my mind and today I wanted to “come out” and acknowledge this part of me.