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.

365: Day 6 – Struggling with Journaling

365: Day 6 – Struggling with Journaling

I’ve started and abandoned journaling countless times. Every start seems to be triggered by another article on the subject that I come across. I imagine myself waking in the quiet hours of the morning with a brand new journal, a cup of coffee, and my glasses on the side–not unlike the picture above that I stole from the internet.

The article the prompted me to write today is from my medical insurance provided, Kaiser Permanente. It lists the following ways in which journaling can help you:

  1. Achieve goals
  2. Track progress and growth
  3. Gain self-confidence
  4. Improve writing and communication skills
  5. Reduce stress and anxiety
  6. Find inspiration
  7. Strengthen memory

With this in mind, the things I would like to work on are achieving goals and tracking my progress towards those and to find inspiration. I’m not all that working about my self-confidence and I my personality has always had me stressing very little. A boost in memory and writing skills would be a bonus. So let’s set put my goals and call for inspiration out there to the world.

Goals

Personal Finance

I want to be completely debt free. The elephant in the room here are my student loans I took out to pay for grad school and this is going to take me a few years to pay down.

Career Development

I want to continue to grow within the construction management field and my goals for the next 12 months are to obtain a promotion at work and obtain my project management professional (PMP) certification. I’m hoping my certification coupled with hard work will get me there. Earlier this year I submitted my application for the PMP program and got approval from my company to pay for the certification. I have to study the course materials and later take the exam.

Health Development

There are several things I want to address here: weight, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health. I have been blessed with great mental health, but since everything of our being is dependent upon our mind, it is paramount to keep it healthy and stress free. So I want this to at times also be a gratitude journal. Weight is something I’ve struggled with most of my life and presents the greatest risk to my health at the moment. So I need to address my nutrition and physical activity. I’ve been eating much healthier than I have in years, but my physical activity level is quite low as compared to before.

Anyway, I will now call it a night and most likely expand on the above points as I go along.

365: Day 5 – My Paradise Café in 香港

365: Day 5 – My Paradise Café in 香港

“The night is new, the faces are friendly. So have a few and let me play some new songs, some blue songs. The mood is always right every night at the Paradise Café. The world outside may make its own madness, but here we hide the world away. No headlines. No deadlines. We’ll make them disappear while you’re here at the Paradise Café.

“The room is kinda smokey. The phone ain’t working. The same old broken keys don’t play, but no one seems to mind it because someone’s buying and we’ll all get through one more day.

“Just me and you around the piano. Not much to do, but dream away. So stay and I’ll play on. I’m all yours for a song all night long at the Paradise Café. Forget the one who love you then lied and left you. Forget the love you almost had, but if you must remember the way it left you, we’ll make it feel good to feel bad…just me and you around the piano.”

-Barry Manilow

I spent the last night of my first time in Hong Kong (香港) at this lounge before heading to catch my train to the airport. A glass of cabernet followed a pinot noir. Entirely by myself, I was looking forward to the next couple of weeks in Japan (日本). I felt on top of the world on this other side of the world: far from home enjoying some wine and music in this lounge. It was incredibly liberating being in this most magnificent of cities alone. I took the scene in from the bar and imagined myself the next great tycoon unwinding after having closed a few business deals in Hong Kong (香港) and ready to close a few more in Tokyo (東京).

Whenever I look back on this scene at the Chin Chin Bar (請請吧) in Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), I can hear Barry Manilow singing Paradise Café and vice versa.

Hong Kong (香港), I miss you…

365: Day 4 – Reading

365: Day 4 – Reading

I used to read a ton in my teenage solitude, and lost my habit for a few years. Little by little I’ve been rekindling my love of reading and the passion for it has come roaring back during this pandemic.

I had a lot of work today, so I will keep this very brief since the clock is nearing the midnight hour. I’ve been reading several books, but most notable is one titled The Three Body Problem a translation of a wonderful Chinese science fiction book that I just couldn’t put down. It’s the first book in a trilogy and I am definitely buying the next two books. In the meantime, I am reading Overstory–a most remarkable novel that won last year’s Pulitzer Prize. The storytelling and the language are superb in a way I had not experienced since ready The Grapes of Wrath.

The picture above is one I borrowed from the internet and it is such a beautiful home library that I hope to have something similar for myself in the future.

365: Day 3 – Venturing in Ventura

365: Day 3 – Venturing in Ventura

The weather has been just perfect the last few days sunny and neither chilly nor warm. My favorite days are the gloomy rainy days, but I won’t argue again a gorgeous sunny day in Southern California. We decided to venture out of Los Angeles for a short walk in Ventura just a bit north.

Daisy and the Bee

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, photography is very special for me and today I found myself wishing I had brought my DSLR with me, but nevertheless I was quite impressed by the quality of the photos on my new phone.

There were flowers everywhere and I found myself wishing I had brought my mom along because she is probably the only person in this entire world who loves flowers and nature more than I.

I won’t say anything more and let the pictures speak for themselves. 🙂

365: Day 2

365: Day 2

I had a delightfully busy day! Yes, I am trying to only focus on the positive for this blog/journal as a way to really focus on the things I should be grateful for. I am blessed with a job I am really happy with and it is keeping me busy and challenged. In addition to my normal tasks, I was asked to lead three separate tutorials for our organizations remote communications platform. Innovating and leading teams are something I really enjoy so today was a good day.

I feel accomplished and wanted to put it in this public journal of mine and I will now treat myself to some reading before going to bed as my reward. 🙂

A 365 Project Perhaps? Yes, 365: Day 1

A 365 Project Perhaps? Yes, 365: Day 1

I’ve never completed a 365 project, although I have made a few attempts. My first attempt was with photography, which I greatly enjoyed. This was just over 9 years ago and it is what took me on a journey of self-discovery. I believe it was around that time that I first started this blog–although all of those posts have since been set to private.

In a nutshell, I was a 300+ pound guy just out of college, unhappy with his job, in the closet, and afraid to proclaim his love for classical music. In the decade that ensued–and still in progress–I lost nearly 100 pounds, got my masters degree, am pretty happy with my career, and being gay feels so normal.

So how did photography lead to this cascade of changes? I was quite the misanthrope and I would avoid at all costs situations that would cause me to be near people. I was convinced that everyone was observing me and disgusted by what they saw. Photography turned those tables and let me become the observer; and what I observed was a beautiful world. Even the most insignificant object could become beautiful if I framed it correctly or if I photographed it from just the right perspective. This in turn led me to slowly begin finding new perspectives and sharing it with the world.

I began to let people into my world, and they saw that it was good. I was emboldened by this newfound validation. Like a caterpillar long past due for a metamorphosis, I began to slowly leave me cocoon. I wanted to transform into something better. I signed myself up for a boot camp, joined a running club, learn how to swim, go to classical music performances and proudly tell the world.

So why am I all mushy about by transformation into who I am today? First, today is a very important day for me: the reason I may share at a future date. Second, I was looking through my old Flickr account, and there my first 365 project still lives. Third, I’ve lost some ground on the weight issue and have completely abandoned my running: something I’ve been meaning to recover for a while now. Lastly, I’ve been toying around with this blog again because I want to journal my efforts to continue improving myself.

Initially I titled this post “A 365 Project Perhaps?” and decided to just take the plunge and attempt another 365 Project. Let’s call this day one of my attempt to post every single day for an entire year be it writing, a photo, sketch, video? Mostly likely, not very many videos if any, but I will commit to a daily post in some shape or form.

I am excited for the future!

It’s late night again

It’s late night again

It’s quiet outside. I want to write more and have a draft I’m working on. Nothing exciting, just a journaling plan for my little corner of the web. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to write something quick and hit the publish button. It’s past midnight and I should be sleeping, but instead I will rock myself to sleep with a good book.

Late-night thoughts

Late-night thoughts

A few weeks ago I imagined a movies scene where I’m up early in the morning sipping some freshly brewed coffee while diligently writing about…whatever masterpiece it is I should be writing to get me a movie about me writing. Another alternative is me plugging away late into the quiet night while John Adams’ Harmonielehre plays in the background.

I haven’t been experiencing my morning Eat Pray Love moment, but I did find myself one night doing exactly the latter. Harmonielehre—particularly the third part—is a piece I’ve often played while driving late into the night long after the incessant traffic has passed. It’s the perfect soundtrack to fast rivers of light weaving through tall glass towers. It’s all overly romanticized, I know, but it’s the state of mind I find myself in when doing this.

All this to say that I find myself lost in thought more during the second part of this piece late at night as I sit near the window looking out into eerily empty streets. It speaks to the loneliness and nostalgia I feel as I wonder if it’ll every all be the same ever again. Has the world forever changed and this will all be a memory that haunts us the rest of our lives?

Nostalgic for normal

Nostalgic for normal

It really is true that you don’t appreciate things until they’re gone. I know this will pass, but at this moment my memories seem like they belong to a different world. A foreign world. A world waiting for me to explore, taste, and photograph.

I daydream about the time I went to Hong Kong and Japan and how unexpectedly transcendental it all way…particularly Japan. I felt as if I had come home. As if I had finally found my perfect place, and yet I was in an incredibly foreign land. In this land I was illiterate and uneducated to its customs; I was thousands of miles from where I lived; and I knew not a single soul. I was more alone that I’d every been and yet I was home.

It’s raining outside now, and I think of walking through Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Kyoto in the rain. Rain drops on open umbrella. The smell of wet earth. Alone in a city of 38 million. On a dark temple path atop a hill. The chilled air. The earthy tea along the philosopher’s walk. The peace inside.

I miss it. I miss it all.