Monday, September 02, 2013

reassess [ree-uh-ses]

to estimate or judge the value, character, etc., of; evaluate 
Synonyms include: reevaluate, reexamine, rework, revise

Last night, I had a dream that I was on vacation somewhere in Italy. There were no recognizable monuments for me to determine exactly where I was, but the Mediterranean was in full view as I rode  a bicycle down a strada so I guess I was somewhere near the coast. It was just past dawn when I left, so the streets were still quiet. On my way back from wherever I rode, I passed by the train station and sat at a nearby cafe to rest, watching passengers hop on and hop off the platform. As I waited there, I ran into an old high school friend.

As I usually do when I have vivid dreams, I looked up the meanings of the most prominent objects: Bicycle 
To dream that you are riding a bicycle signifies your desires to attain a balance in your life. You need to balance work and pleasure in order to succeed in your current undertakings. If you have difficulties riding the bicycle, then it suggests that you are experiencing anxieties about making it on your own. To see a bicycle in your dream indicates that you need to devote time to leisurely pursuits and recreation. Train 
To see a train in your dream represents conformity. You are just going along with what everyone else is doing. Alternatively, a train means that you are very methodical. You need to lay things out specifically and do things in an orderly and sequential manner. If you see a passenger train, then it relates to mental work. 
To dream that you are at a station represents a transitional period in your life. You need to take a short break to reassess your situation and determine your path and goals. 
To dream that you are on vacation indicates that you need a break to recharge your energies and revitalize yourself. You need to break out of your daily routine and do something different. Alternatively, dreaming of a vacation represents your achievements. You are giving yourself a pat on the back and are deserving of a reward for your hard work.
To see friends from your past in your dream points to your desire to reconnect with a part of yourself that you have lost touch with. Perhaps it is time to pick up that old hobby or put a long hidden talent to use. 

I've always believed in the communication of our dreams. They're not just abstract manifestations of our (unfulfilled) hopes and desires. They're also, often times, beacons - shining their lighthouse-caliber glow, trying to catch our attention. 

"Hey! You there! Remember when you used to write for fun? Remember when you used to write about those, what are they called? Oh yeah...FEELINGS? Remember when you had plans to attend grad school? Remember when you had the energy to do everything?" 

As of this sentence that I'm typing out right now, it is 3:05 am. I went to bed around midnight and, since I couldn't sleep, watched a small indie film called, Like Crazy. For whatever reason, I had the sudden desire to write, so here I am, blogging for the first time since this year began and I feel really badly about it because...

...I miss this. I miss just writing...about anything and everything. I miss writing about what I did over the weekend, instead how many shots Kobe attempted, how many free throws Dwight Howard missed and how bad the Laker defense was (it was really bad). I miss writing really awful poetry, because as corny as all of it was, it was still an outlet. For a long time now, I've settled for outlets that required less work, like eating out with friends, shopping, reading the hottest new series (I've read most of them - Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Hunger Games, 50 Shades of Grey, etc.) or just working more.

I love photography. I love how much I've learned and how much I've helped people relive really great times in their lives, and I don't regret riding that wave when the opportunity came. But I know my writing was a casualty, because I was just serving too many masters. 

It's a good thing it's Labor Day Weekend. Otherwise I don't know if I could wake up two hours from now and get ready for work. I hope I have more bouts like this though. I hope they come more everyday.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Start with a smile...

“Start each day with a smile, and get it over with.” ~ W.C. Fields

Even optimistic people have bad days – that’s what gives them the greatest opportunity to show their strength. I don’t consider myself a complete optimist. I wish I could, but for the time being, let’s just say that I’m trying.

A couple of years ago, I picked up Sacred Hoops, written by one of the greatest coaches of all time, Phil Jackson. In it, he describes – I don’t even know what to label it; a philosophy, phenomenon, etc. – called mindfulness. That is, living life mindfully, melding action and thought into one so that you experience whatever it is you’re doing, fully. In living and appreciating each moment, each action, etc, I’ve noticed a great change in me.

Waking up in the morning, for example, is probably the hardest thing I have to do each day…literally. Whether it’s during the freezing winters or the warm summers, being woken up by the annoying sound of an alarm before I feel I am ready to face the universe, is agonizing. But I, and most of you, get up anyway because it’s what we’re supposed to do (gosh, we’re all so responsible).

So, to make mornings more bearable, the first thing I do is say, “Thank you.” Actually, it’s more like, “You’re giving me another day to make up for how I screwed up yesterday? Thanks, God!” And for whatever reason, that does the trick. I’ve learned that exercising a little gratitude goes a long way, especially if the long way is in the form of an 8-hour work day. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Courage to create...

“Another word for creativity is courage.” ~ George Prince

I let my thoughts run rampant…a lot. My imagination has a quick trigger and one reverie tends to lead to a whole train of musings, and the end result is typically me scaring myself out of something. Aquarians are notorious for thinking too much and for wandering (and wondering) too far ahead, and what can I say? I am a proud Aquarian.

I try to stop my thoughts from going off the deep end. The only problem with this, however, is that it stunts an ability that right-brained people (like me) usually nurture – creativity. I took a test my freshman year in high school, that told me whether I was a left-brained (logical) or right-brained (creative) type. My test showed that though I fall more so towards the right brain way of thinking, I walk the fence ever so slightly into left-brain territory, which means I’m a creative type who overthinks. The crazy writes itself, doesn’t it?

I’ve seen this dichotomy exercised often. I’m so guilty of it. All my writing classes, in college and some I’ve taken since, have all preached the practice of: Write Now. Edit Later. Writers, artists of all types, are encouraged to run through their process without stopping; let your creativity guide you. That’s what drafts are for, for crying out loud. But no, I can’t help but write….edit…write…edit…edit…write, which is why I seldom have more than one draft of ANYTHING.

There are various reasons for holding out or stopping yourself from going at it on instincts, and a major factor is fear. I had a writing teacher tell us once, that we store all of our painful experiences in a well deep inside our psyches; somewhere that’s relatively unreachable so that we’re not reminded of those hurtful moments often. But for writers to produce anything worth reading or sharing, we don’t have a choice but to pull from that “well of shit,” she called it, in order to create something that’s real, even if it brings forth old pains.

Creativity isn’t based on random, spontaneous conjecture – it comes from somewhere/something familiar and close. In order to take advantage of it, we can’t stop ourselves from letting it run its course. We can’t be afraid of what it will create.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Loving the long way...

“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” ~ anonymous

I have a thing with shortcuts, in that, they don’t usually work out for me. Unless it’s a shortcut to figure out which fraction is greater than the other (Thanks for the tip, Sister Jane. It still works!), or to copy, paste and delete in Word, I’m not big on taking the shorter route unless it’s proven itself to me. It’s a silly philosophy, I know. But even when I’m driving somewhere, and the traffic is bad, and I decide to re-route myself through what I’ve been told is a shortcut, most times, it takes me even longer to get where I need to be.

The UCIrvine Campus, for example, is built like a wheel, with Aldrich Park occupying the center. One day after class, my friend and I had to walk to the Student Center from one of the lecture halls. As I headed down Ring Road, which is a paved path that runs the circumference of the campus, my friend yelled, “Hey! Where are you going? Let’s just walk through the park.” Physical Sciences Lecture Hall and the Student Center, were quite literally, a diameter through the park apart. “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” he said. My opinion, however, was that it is quicker to walk down a flat, paved surface than going through the concave center patches of grass. I guess it’s a matter of preference, but for me, the longer route took the lesser amount of time.

Since college, I’ve learned to appreciate the proverbial journey, even and especially if it’s a long one. Two hours from Glendale to San Diego provides a beautiful, coastal view of Southern California. Five years trying to maneuver my way through DSLR-use has been frustrating, but never blinking when I have to change the settings is a daily victory. Adobe no longer means brick because I’ve spent the last five years learning how it can help enhance, but not make over, my images.  Knowing the satisfaction of paying off my car and a sizeable student loan, even if it took six and 10 years respectively – I’ll never take my ability pay debt or my education for granted.

I’ve always called myself a Janey-come-lately. I’m the last to go through a lot of things in life (like owning an iPhone. 1 month and counting, folks). Sometimes it’s a frustrating admission, especially when I’m eager to experience so many things, like falling in love, having a fulfilling career as a writer or photographer, having no debt, etc. In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the voyage, hoping I don’t get seasick.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” 
~ Ellen Parr

I’m reminded of a scene from The Cosby Show, and every time I think about it, I totally crack up. In the scene, Rudy is bothering Vanessa, and Vanessa, in her annoyance, tells Rudy to quit bugging her. Rudy responds, “But I’m bored.” Vanessa then looks at her little sister and says very matter-of-factly, “You’re bored because you’re a boring person.” Hahaha!

When I was younger, I hated being bored. I hated not having anything to do in the summertime; hated Saturday mornings after cartoons were done showing (before satellite cable, obviously). I wasn’t into sports until I was in the 6th grade (volleyball), but it’s not like volleyball courts were as prevalent as basketball courts. I liked reading, but huge bookstores weren’t exactly common when I was little.

“Idle hands are the devil’s playthings,” the saying goes. If this indeed was the case when I was younger, then the devil must’ve loved Barbies, because darned if I didn’t have 10 different Barbie dolls to keep me occupied after the homework was done. Aside from, maybe my toy plates set or toy sink, it was my toy box of Barbie and all her various paraphernalia that saved me from boredom.

My Barbies had their Corvette, Dreamstore with clothes and accessories for sale, a bathtub and of course a wardrobe that could rival that of any pre-teen up-and-coming actors of today. I never did get my Ken doll or Skipper, though. I basically ran a sorority – Pink ‘n Pretty Barbie, Barbie & the Rockers, Loving You Barbie, Day to Night Barbie (which, now that I think about it, sounds like she could’ve been a hooker).

I loved trying to figure out what else I could do their hair – braid it, twirl it, tie it up, etc. I’m starting to realize that maybe that’s why I love playing with hair so much now. Curling, flatironing, braiding – I love it all! My chick friends can attest to this since I do most of their hair when the occasion calls for it. It’s my belief that there is no coif-related problem that can’t be solved with a hair appliance. It’s not vanity; it’s just something useful to know.

Funny how time works though, because at my age, I rarely have time to BE bored. I probably wouldn’t mind an afternoon every so often to be bored. Maybe I could come up with a new skill in the process =)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Things that have never been...

A few years after I started working in an office and inhabiting my own cubicle, I started buying daily calendars; the ones where you tear off a page and each day contained a pretty image or a clever quote. I bought an “Italian word of the day” calendar the year after our Italy/Switzerland trip. I followed that with a daily calendar containing gorgeous Italian scenes. The Lord of the Rings calendar was one of my favorites, each morning tearing off a page and having the various members of the Fellowship greet me. In 2012, I got the “Don’t Swear the Small Stuff” calendar, providing me with daily reminders of how to deal with life when the sun is shining, but especially when, as an old classmate put it, God is peeing on us. This year, inspired by one of my best buds, Iya, I got Mary Engelbreit’s calendar, and oh, it’s got the best title on the box: The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things.
 In an effort to write more (which I often promise in the form of failed New Year’s resolutions), I thought I’d get creative and provide myself with a daily prompt so I’m not constantly searching for something to write about (the Lakers’ game-to-game issues notwithstanding, of course). So in the words of Maria Von Trapp, let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start…

“And now let us welcome the New Year, 
full of things that have never been.”

So here comes 2013, filled with so many possibilities that, truthfully, I haven’t given too much thought. Okay I’m lying – I have given the upcoming year a lot of thought. The new year always makes me look back from where I’ve come, and soon after I analyze the present in which I reside. More often than not, I come to this point and think to myself, “Anna, you’ve done nothing. This is nowhere near what you planned LAST New Year. Are you satisfied with yourself?” But this year, I’m giving myself a break. I did a lot last year – much more than I planned or could have ever imagined doing.

So many things I didn’t expect came to fruition in 2012 (like the progress I made learning more and more about photography). I knew it was something I wanted to spend more time on, but the opportunities that came along with it were all blessings that did little less than startle me, and heck, who doesn’t love surprises? I have to admit – I was scared to commit to anything because, as is one my many weaknesses, I don’t like to fail. But I heard a song by one of my favorite singers, Gary Valenciano, called, “Letting Go,” and the one line that struck me was this, “When hard may seem the task, one step is all He asks of you.” With that, I remembered my motto in life, “Divide and conquer.

So…a whole year’s worth of blog entries? I’d put that under “things that have never been” for me. And where do I begin with such a tall order? How about one post?

One post - check!