2018 Vision Statement

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Here’s what I’ll be writing at the end of this year.  I added my work goals this time because it’s also an important part of my life.

Family:

  • Visited NYC together and saw some Broadway shows
  • Both kids are growing up to be independent, happy young adults.
  • Enjoyed a fun Vegas Girls’ trip with my mom.
  • Did a family vacation to a new spot.
  • Visited my parents in Tampa.
  • I finally met the partner I’d hoped for and we are building a life together.

Friends:

  • Finally did our international girls trip!
  • Hosted a dinner party for my WHIP friends and our partners.

Work:

  • I successfully supported AHE in our move to GBM
  • In our new team, we have radically improved education for all of our customers.
  • I was able to get an investment for community and we’ve increased the engagement which has helped support and education.
  • I started a Women@GBM group and helped support women in our org.

Community:

  • Started a Facebook group for my neighborhood and at least half of my neighbors (13 of 26) joined.
  • Continued supporting veterans transitioning to tech by participating in VetsinTech and other vet orgs.

Me:

  • Painting: I attended the International Encaustic Conference in Massachusetts in June. I set up my art studio and completed 20 paintings, enough to sign up for Open Studios in 2019. I have posted my paintings to my art website, encaustech.com, and have sold a few. I’ve begun talking with Facebook about doing an encaustic installation on one of the walls at work.
  • Design: I completed a web development course and was able to use what I learned to redesign encaustech.com, which I am now using to both exhibit and sell my artwork. Investigating how to do a small installation at Facebook.
  • Writing: I sold the screenplay I wrote in 2017 and wrote another one.
  • Fitness: I rode the Peloton bike 3-4X a week and did yoga at least 2X/week. Took a pole dancing class and loved it. I’m exploring options to get certified in teaching yoga.
  • Travel: I visited two new places this year (options include Bulgaria, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Prague, Berlin, Costa Rica).
  • Flying: I renewed my medical and got current again in a small plane. I fly every 3 weeks or so and enjoy taking friends up for flights.

Scorecard from 2017 Vision Statement

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“Coastline”  watercolor on paper, 2012

I was able to get Quip to cooperate and found my 2017 Vision Statement. I had written it as an essay but found it easier to evaluate in spreadsheet form, so here’s how it went. I used color-coding to indicate whether or not I felt I met the goal, kinda met it, or missed:

Goals from 2017 Vision Statement Notes
Family
We took a fun family vacation together to Europe and a couple of long weekend trips to Carmel and Hawaii. Spent spring break in Oahu and did a summer trip to London and Venice. Didn’t make it to Carmel, though.
During the weeks they’re with me, I am able to leave the office in time to pick them up from school and we cook dinner together a couple of times a week. Getting handy with the InstaPot!
We welcomed a dog into our family. Got a cat – close enough!
I finally met the partner I’d hoped for and we are building a life together. He’s appreciative of all the thoughtful things I do for him, and he delights in and encourages my personal growth. Lots of dates but no serious prospects yet.
Friends
I’ve been able to finish furnishing and decorating my house and have hosted parties for my friends. Finally finished the built-in bookshelves and decorated the walls.
We did a get-away together and celebrated our friendship. Mexico fell through because of weather, but we “got away” to the east bay!
We went to several concerts together this summer RetroFutura concert, Green Day and Paula Cole
My friends helped me ring in my milestone birthday this year and I am grateful to have them in my life. Had an awesome birthday party thrown by my parents and my kids, with family and so many dear friends in attendance. #grateful
Community
I continued my involvement in veteran support groups. Advisor for VetsinTech, spoke at NPower graduation
Helped host a VetsinTech hackathon at Facebook.
I volunteered at both of my kids’ schools. Helped with the 8th grade graduation celebration.
Me
Painting: I set up my art studio and completed 20 paintings, enough to sign up for Open Studios in 2018. I  have posted my paintings to my art website, encautech.com, and have sold a few. I’ve begun talking with Facebook about doing an encaustic installation on one of the walls at work. Got my supplies in the garage but it’s a mess. Attended several workshops this year, but haven’t organized my own studio and made it functional yet.
Web Dev: I completed a web development course and was able to use what I learned to redesign encaustech.com, which I am now using to both exhibit and sell my artwork. This completely dropped. I was able to get back the url for encaustech.com and that’s now active again.
Writing: Speaking of blogs, I am regularly posting on rendipi.com and stretching my writing muscles. Wouldn’t consider posting 5x a year “regular.” 🙂
Writing: I finally completed the first draft of my first novel. Wrote a screenplay instead of a novel.
Music: I continued my guitar lessons and sang at an open mic night. Practiced guitar for a while but it fell off. No open mic nights yet, other than some karaoke.
Fitness: I got serious about yoga and am practicing at least 3X a week. In 2018, I will get my 200-hour teaching certificate and will start volunteering to teach yoga at the VA. Practicing yoga fairly regularly but need to carve out more time for it.
Travel: I enjoyed a solo vacation and visited some places I’ve never been to (Montreal, Vancouver, Prague, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Costa Rica are candidates) Visited Amsterdam and Barcelona. Loved both.

Tomorrow I’ll share my 2018 Vision Statement. There are lots of similarities – things I really wanted to get to this year but didn’t have time or other priorities occurred. And there are some new things! I’ll try to trim the list to something more manageable. Looking back, there was a lot here, and I didn’t even include my work goals.

Onward and upward!

Happy New Year, 2018

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As we often do at the end of a year, yesterday I reflected on my vision statement from 2017 and how much I was able to accomplish and what didn’t get done.

While I was able to achieve more things than I believe I would have if I hadn’t written a vision statement, it occurred to me that despite a shit-ton of therapy introspection over the past few years, I am still letting fear guide too much of my life.

I am still afraid of…

making bad decisions.
looking stupid.
hurting someone.
falling in love again.
hurting myself physically.
failing the people I love.
and probably several other things I haven’t listed. Blockchain technology, for example.

So, while I did write another vision statement for 2018 (which I will have to post separately because Quip is being uncooperative at the moment – shocker), I want to also commit to a guiding word for the year.

Over the past few years, I’ve used Explore, Stretch, Mindful, Forgive and Create. But for some unexplained reason, this year I feel I need to up-level the bad-assery of my inspirational word-of-the-year. Maybe it’s because I turned 50 a few months ago and so my mortality is more top-of-mind. Perhaps it’s because I find that the older I get, the fewer fucks I give about a LOT of stuff. Like my potty mouth, for example. During my years in the navy, my creativity in the fine usage of colorful metaphors approached artisanal mastery but has since degenerated to the point now where I can barely manage to drop an f-bomb when I need my teenage son to take.the.fucking.garbage.out.NOW.

But I digress.

For me, 2018 is about being FEARLESS.

  • It’s about stepping up for challenges at work that scare me, because I know I will figure shit out, somehow, and I’ll be supported by the best team I’ve ever had the honor of working with.
  • It’s about engaging more with friends, instead of using my INFJ-ness as an excuse to not comment on a post, or go to a party or take a stand on an issue.
  • It’s about encouraging myself to be vulnerable and open, hopeful that I will meet someone I can trust and find a partner whom I adore and who feels the same about me. Or maybe I won’t, and I’m okay with that. #dontsettle
  • It’s about getting back behind the stick of an airplane (a stick, not a goddamn yoke. Fuck that shit.) because I love flying and I miss having my head literally in the clouds.
  • It’s about continuing to loosen the grip on the two people I love the most, who are pulling slowly away from me (as they should) as they look toward that beacon of adulthood beckoning to them more brightly, while still supporting them and loving them every day. Even when they don’t take out the fucking trash.
  • It’s about sharing my writing, rather than worrying about what people will think, or how they’ll judge me. Ditto for my encaustic painting work.
  • It’s about getting stronger physically. After years of recovering from a fat childhood, I’m no longer afraid to own this. Sorry, Mom and Dad, this might be the year I take up pole dancing.

So there it is. My first fearless act is to share this publicly and ask you, my friends and family, to remind me that in exactly one year I’m going to have to answer up to myself about whether or not I followed through on being fearless. Hopefully you will at least have received an airplane ride out of it with me somewhere along the way.

Happy New Year, everyone! Except you, Fear. You can fuck off.

 

 

 

Making art from a broken heart

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I am taking a class at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History tomorrow, taught by Daniella Woolf. It’s inspired by work she did entitled Family Portrait using emotional letters that had been written by her family members. The class is called “Let it Rip.” We are encouraged to bring personal letters to transform.

Instead of letters, I’m bringing printed tweets that were written to be my a former lover. Most are some version of this:

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It’s interesting to read them now. At the time, when I was in love with him, I would look forward to reading these delightful reminders of how beautiful and unique we thought our love was. I would feel warm inside, reading of his professed undying love for me. Unfortunately, he wasn’t ready for a committed relationship with me. Reading his words now, I feel sad that the timing didn’t work and that he let a love like that slip away. But, I’m grateful for getting this great material for art!

 

 

Serendipity 

That moment when you’re eating a crappy salad in the Las Vegas airport after yet another weekend of feeling sorry for yourself because you’re convinced you are never going to find love again and then as you take a mouthful of overcooked chicken and way too much lettuce, your ear catches a sound that is familiar and after a second of slowly rolling the salad around your mouth, you realize the restaurant is playing music, in fact, the song you’re hearing is one of your favorite songs ever by your favorite band and suddenly you know you that you’re going to be okay, even better than okay, you are going to be fucking fantastic and you will fall in love again and sing this song to him, or better yet, you will sing it to each other.

Who do I want to be?

I read this post about “the Deadly Sin that makes life awesome.” Spoiler: It’s Pride. But not Hubristic Pride, when you think you’re better than other people. The author describes the benefit of Authentic Pride, where you are proud of the work you’ve done.

One of the recommendations the author makes is to ask yourself, “Who do I want to be” rather than “What do I want?” or “What will impress other people?”

I love that approach.

So, who do I want to be?

A writer.
An artist.
A mom with a great relationship with her kids.
A partner to someone I love and respect.
A great friend.
Fearless.
Creative.
Free.
Loved.

 

The mathz

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I’m on a long flight from LHR-SFO, reading a great book called The Divine Proportion, by H.E. Huntley, published in 1970. It’s about the relationship of aesthetics and mathematics, so of course if focuses a lot on the Golden Ratio.

In the first chapter, the author describes how he fell in love with mathematics. It was at a lecture, during his freshman year at Bristol University and the lecturer, Peter Frazer, wrote a theorem on the chalkboard and became enamored by the simple elegance of the set he had drawn. He paused, then proclaimed how exquisite it was, becoming animated in his exaltations of the theorem’s beauty. The class laughed, but the author was moved.

I get it. I had a similar experience in my freshman calculus class, when Professor Zukowski, who most mornings reeked of alcohol, wrote on the board the first differential equation I’d ever seen, and proceeded to explain how calculus could explain so many parts of our world…it was like I had received a decoder ring for the universe. I had loved trigonometry in high school, mostly the graphing of the curves, but this was adding a new dimension, literally.

In the book, Professor Huntley gives advice to those who might be reading it and thinking of pursuing mathematics as a career. One bit of advice struck me as sad, yet true. He writes, “You may be lonely. Scarcely anyone will understand your work because few will be capable of understanding it.”

I feel that deeply. Perhaps my greatest failure as a parent has been my inability to stir in my children the same love I had for math. Granted, I didn’t fall in love with math until I was in college. And friends will tell you that it wasn’t math I fell in love with, but David Carpenter.

I’ll explain… I was in NROTC, so I had to take calculus. And in my calculus class was a cute, suntanned, shaggy-haired boy with awesome dimples, named Dave Carpenter. He kept to himself, which added to his mystique. One day, he came to class in an Air Force ROTC uniform and I about died…my secret crush was also in ROTC! I finally mustered the courage to ask him about it, and we struck up a conversation. He had dreams of becoming an astronaut, so he was enrolled in AFROTC. I started researching the space program. Most astronauts were former military test pilots who had technical degrees. So I switched my major from art to mathematics. My friends accused me of wanting to become an astronaut so I could have sex with David Carpenter in space.

After the second month of school, I didn’t see him in class. I never saw him in a uniform on campus again. His enthusiasm for the space program had apparently dissipated, or maybe it transferred over to me. I went on a field trip to a few naval air stations over the holiday break and fell in love with flying, too. David Carpenter had been replaced.

It’s funny, I was reading this book about numbers, and then the in-flight TV show I was most drawn to was a show about online dating and algorithms. I took a few notes; my next exercise after writing this blog post is updating my dating profile. On the show, the host mentioned the mathematical formula about rejecting 37% of options and then dating the next suitable person (also detailed in this article). I’ve been keeping a list of the dates I’ve been on; I think I’m around 28, so I feel like I have extra incentive to hop to it and get out on some more dates.

I was also super inspired by the images and figures in the book. I cannot wait to get my art studio in order so I can start a mathematically-inspired series of paintings. I want to do a bunch that are inspired by the golden ratio, and also a series of chessboards. I love that math continues to inspire me in so many ways, which gives me hope that maybe my kids will also eventually learn to appreciate it.

When I look in the mirror…

This is from a writing prompt I did in a writing workshop a few months ago. The prompt was, “When I look in the mirror…”

When I look in the mirror I see an artist. Those are ten simple words but it’s taken me over 40 years to write them and feel confident that they’re true.

When I was a child, I loved to draw and make up jokes to make my parents laugh. We moved around a lot because my dad was in the military and when we were finally a big enough family to merit housing with a garage, we were in Southern California, where thankfully no one uses garages for cars and I would delight in recruiting my brothers and our friends to perform plays and reenactments using the garage as our makeshift theater. I would write and direct the plays, create the playbills, act in the plays, even make snacks for the “concession stand.”

In elementary school I lived for the annual school play. I was crushed when I didn’t get the lead in the fourth grade play – a spaghetti western about a cowboy named Jones. I still remember the theme song, “Along Came Jones.” Because I knew how to play piano, I was cast in a small role as Miss Kitty, the owner of the local Saloon, and when Jones said “Hit it, Miss Kitty” I had to play the Scott Joplin rag, “The Entertainer.” I don’t even think I had a line; I just winked back at him and played the piano.

I exacted my revenge for this crushing miscasting by spending the next summer writing a play to be performed for our 5th grade year. It was a study in what aliens would think about Earth if they landed in Camp Pendleton, CA and only learned about our society from watching television commercials. I guess it was actually funny because my teacher, Miss Bobo, agreed to let us perform it. 

I had to write out the script because I didn’t know how to type, and then make copies using that carbon copy paper and I can’t remember what it’s called now because it was 1977 and we’re so beyond that archaic method of copying. I loved every minute of putting on this production – the staging, the directing, the coaching, wondering which jokes would land and which needed to be juiced up a bit.

My parents were lukewarm about my enthusiasm for art and performing. I could sense their disapproval in the way that they talked about famous actors…”Oh, he was so entertaining in that movie, too bad he’s as queer as a three-dollar bill.” Wanting to please my parents, I started thinking about other careers. I loved animals, so one night at a family dinner I announced (to my parents’ delight) that I was thinking about becoming a veterinarian, which meant I would need to go to medical school (much better than scandalizing the family by becoming an actress).

Within a week, my parents bought me a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. I think they were so thankful that I had apparently moved on from the ridiculous idea of becoming an actress that they neglected to actually look in the book and realize that the huge tome of medical information also included diagrams of reproductive organs, a verboten topic in our catholic family. This was a major score for an 11 year old. Finally, I got to see a decent drawing of a penis. And a vagina, for that matter. I so had the fear of God drilled into me about sex that I had never looked at my own genitalia in a mirror because I couldn’t bear the thought of telling a priest about it in confession. It never occurred to me to just not say anything.

High School came and my main activity, other than school work, was drama. I was drawn to the theater. I felt at home on stage and behind it. I loved the teamwork involved in putting on the show and the creativity and the service to the audience. My parents and I had some tense conversations about my college and career choices. I wanted to study acting and art, but my parents pressured me to study something else, anything else. I had grown up hearing about how artists were weird, were perverts, were people who weren’t skilled at anything else useful to society and so they do art. Don’t think you’ll ever get rich by being an actress, my parents constantly reminded me. All my childhood I heard that being an artist would set me up for failure in life. When I went to college, I took the road my parents wanted me to travel because they convinced me that the path I wanted with lead to sadness and poverty and nude photos that would destroy any artistic career I could cobble together in the first place. I had been told my whole childhood that being an artist was bad, so when I looked in the mirror, I told myself you’re too good of a person to be an artist.

And yet the artist inside me wouldn’t go away. I did some community theater after college. In the navy I made music videos for my squadron. I started painting 7 years ago and I make time to write. I started accepting that just because my path created a successful business career, it doesn’t mean I can’t create, in bits and pieces. I look forward to the future, in a few years, when my kids are grown up and I can move someplace less expensive and take a lower-paying job, and I’ll change my LinkedIn profile to only say “Artist.”

Life lessons from yoga

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One of my goals for 2017 is to establish a more regular yoga practice (along with a more regular writing practice – so far, so good!).

I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for six years. My first yoga class was in grad school, 15 years ago. I had held the typical military sterotype of yoga that it was too “soft and squishy” of a workout, and I thought I’d be chanting instead of working up a sweat (which is my qualification of a good workout). But a friend of mine convinced me to go to a yoga class he had taken and he promised it would be a great workout.

He was right; it was an ashtanga class. For the unfamiliar, ashtanga is hindi for “ass kicking.” Just kidding, but I loved that it was a serious workout. I wasn’t intimidated by the super yogis in the class who could bend themselves in ways I didn’t think possible. Instead, I focused on what I could do that day. I began going to the ashtanga class fairly regularly, as many times as I could on my grad student budget.I loved the muscles I was starting to feel on my shoulders and abs.

Then I moved to California, got pregnant, and stopped practicing yoga. The demands of raising two small children, running a house and managing full-time jobs in tech took up all of my time and fitness fell to the side.

Fast forward eight years to 2010. I was super stressed out at work and my marriage was falling apart. I needed to do something, anything to find some inner peace. I remembered a few co-workers from a previous job who were really into bikram yoga and had recommended it. “Bikram” is hindi for “hot and smelly feet.” Just kidding, but it is conducted in a heated room, which, if not cleaned properly, can get pretty darn stinky. It’s a series of 26 poses, each done twice, first for a minute and then for 30 seconds. The whole series takes 90 minutes, and by the end, you are drenched in sweat and feeling pretty wiped. My kind of workout.

Over the past six years, I’ve improved my flexibility and strength. I progressed to power yoga, which involves inversions and balances – a new challenge for me. One pose in particular had been my nemesis for a long time: bakasana, or crow pose. It’s a balance on ones’ arms, using arm and core strength. I could put my knees on the backs of my upper arms, lean forward and lift one foot off the ground, but I was afraid to lift the other foot because I was sure I would fall forward on my face.

I spent months in class balancing on one toe, so afraid to let that toe leave the ground. See, I’ve never been able to do a pull up. I’ve never had great upper-body strength, so I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t be able to do anything that requires it. But bakasana requires not just physical strength, but mental power.

I finally got tired of not trying and one day, decided to lift up that toe. I balanced for two seconds and then my toes came back down. It was super short, but it was air time and I held the balance for those two seconds.  I was elated; in all those years I’d always leave that one big toe on the floor to balance and support myself. I’d never trusted myself enough to do the full pose. I’d always think, “What if I fall on my face?” and finally I thought, “What if I DON’T fall? What if I can rock this pose and I’ve been wasting all this time doubting myself?” So I did it.

 

The lesson for me? I’m stronger than I realize. And who cares if I fall? I will keep trying, and get stronger, and balance longer.

Yes, sometimes I wipe out:

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but I just don’t GAF about that anymore. Because I’ll get back up and try again. I know I can do it now.