Christmases Past

I’ve spent a few hours this week reflecting on how fortunate I am. Period. I suppose this kind of thinking is natural when one has (finally) a holiday, which comes with time and space for deeper thinking.

She’s checking it out... All the new sme by CanadianAEh, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  CanadianAEh 

This is my first Christmas in Singapore. And yet, it is my 5th year in this gorgeous and green city-state island.

That got me thinking about where I was for those other Christmases since I’ve been in Singapore. And then I started thinking about the many places in the world I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas over the years. It’s remarkable, because prior to leaving Canada, I had pretty much only celebrated Christmas in my home province of Alberta (specifically: Calgary, Edmonton, Drayton Valley, Red Deer, Hylo, Milk River) and some in the USA (specifically: Tulsa and Houston, with one post-Christmas trip to LA and San Diego).

And so, I thought it might be valuable to document the Christmases Past, so that in Christmases Future, I:

  1. will remember where I’ve spent my Christmases (even compiling this list was rough on my 40yo brain)
  2. can again look back on my Christmases Past and again be full of gratitude.

Here is the list of where I’ve spent the holidays — that wee stretch from just before Christmas to just after New Years — since I moved away from my country of birth, in chronological order, from 2001 to today. I’m very fortunate to have had these 15 years of wonderful Christmases in diverse locations.

2001: Tampa Bay and Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA (The One When I Was Really Sick)

2002: Costa Del Sol, Spain (The One Where Mum Had Dental Work)

2003: Doha, Qatar (The One When All My Friends And Family Came Over)

2004: Algarve, Portugal (The One When I Lost My Luggage — it was bad)

2005: Doha, Qatar (The One When My Dad Left Me With The Phone Bill)

2006: Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (The One With The Confetti All Over My House)

2007: Hylo, Alberta (The One When Grandma Turned 80, and Patrick Turned 30)

2008: Hanoi, Hoi An, and Mai Chau,Vietnam, and Bali, Indonesia (The One When Maija Was Santa)

2009: Houston, Texas, USA (The One When I Was Broke Again)

2010: New Brunswick, Maine (The One When I Couldn’t Leave The USA And Kate Rescued Me)

2011: Hanoi, Vietnam (The One That Was The Law Family’s Last Christmas in Vietnam)

2012: Bali, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand; and Calgary, Alberta, Canada (The One When Hugh Was Born)

2013: Sydney and Adelaide, Australia (The One When It Rained On Christmas Day)

2014: Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Guruvayoor and Ft Kochin, India (The One Where Emma & Tim and Emily & Suresh Got Married)

2015: Singapore…. The One When…. TBD 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extroverts have challenges, too.

I’ve had a week. Not like, Oh my GAWD all kinds of horrible things happened. Not that kind of week. Just as in Holy cow, that was long and intense, am I ever glad for the weekend. I got to the end of my week, Friday, to discover that …

*cue ominous drumroll*

… I had no plans for Friday night. I was devastated. And full of anxiety.

Let me explain.

I am an extrovert. Like, really an extrovert. It’s a continuum — most people are neither completely extroverted nor completely introverted, but rather somewhere in the middle. I happen to be prrrrrretty far over on the extrovert scale (ENFP if you’re curious). In case you don’t know what it means to be super extroverted, this doesn’t (necessarily) mean I’m (always) loud and obnoxious. It means I get energy from being around other people. This is how I recharge. It’s a need. Like people need to eat and sleep. Like I need coffee in the morning. I need people around me when I’m tired in order to feel recharged.

You might think this is easy. There are people everywhere! You might even think. Well. Let me tell you: It’s not like that at all.

People have lives. People have families. And not everyone is an extrovert like me. Not everyone gets energy from being around others. I get that. But man, does it ever make my life depressing when I get to Friday night — without plans. Seriously — no joke: It is one of my biggest nightmares and fears. I know this sounds silly, but frankly, I don’t care. It’s the truth: I genuinely get anxious knowing that I don’t have anyone to share, exchange, chat, and connect with at the end of the week.

After doing a bit of a Google search, I have discovered that I’m not alone (thanks, interwebz). Other extroverts feel similarly to me. One person described it as anti-social anxiety — as in, the anxiety around not having social plans. Please don’t misunderstand — this isn’t loneliness. I have written about that before; I’m rarely lonely (mostly because I’m too busy!). It’s knowing that spending Friday night alone will make me even more tired than the week that preceded it.

In situations like this, I do have coping strategies. Typically, it involves going out somewhere there will be other people — strangers — and just hanging out in that space. Tonight that was Macritchie Reservoir Park and the bistro on top of the hill there. It was lovely. But it wasn’t the same as catching up with someone about how the week was and what’s on for the weekend. It’s like craving a pizza but all there is on the menu is a sandwich. It’s got bread and cheese, but it just isn’t the same. But I knew that if I didn’t do it, I’d be depressed and exhausted at home alone. I’m such an extrovert that I will often try to get the pizza even if I know it’s not on the menu. I’ll chat with complete strangers about their shoes, the weather, the beautiful colour of the sky, where the nearest 7-11 is, you name it — I will find a way to talk to someone. This works better in some places than others.

New York.

New York is an extrovert’s heaven in this sense. Nobody in NYC thinks it’s weird to talk to a stranger about how their dog got his name, which ice cream parlour has pistachio flavour, or why the guy at the corner grocery always wears his cap sideways. This alone is one reason I will always love NYC. It welcomed my extrovert ways with open arms. I belonged there — me and all the other people dying to talk to other people. In a few cases, I made friends this way. Literally, I made friends with random people on the street. T-shirt vendors (there was a guy who sold cool prints at Union Square and on the corner of Prince and Greene — he even offered me a job once), the woman who waited tables at the bar on the corner (ah, Milady’s, I miss you), and then there was the Greek guy in the LES outside Katz’s who ended up coming to my birthday party several months later.

Asia, notsomuch. Granted, Singapore isn’t too bad. There are cultural issues embedded in this, of course. In general, Singaporeans don’t greet each other with “Hey, how’s it going?” or any question that is so open-ended. Greetings tend to be short and sweet and predictable. Have you taken your dinner yet? Yes, already. Or No, not yet, in 30 minutes I will. End of conversation. Hear the extrovert’s brain die of asphyxiation, gasp gasp.

Coupled with the need to talk to people to recharge and feel energized is FOMO. In those moments that I am alone, but around people, at a restaurant, mall, park, wherever, I can see other people talking and connecting and all I can focus on is the fact that I am not doing that, and therefore I am missing out on this experience. Forget the fact that I have done that already 4 (or more!) times this week, not including my very socially interactive JOB — no, no matter that, because even so, I can’t handle the fact that on any given night when what I need most is to re-charge (read: be around people), all these other people are out there, right in front of me, talking and exchanging ideas, and I’m not a part of it. Ouch. 🙁 All I want is some other-human energy, man. Is that so hard?

Anyway, I’m also a mature (usually) adult and I recognize that hey, there will be times like these. That’s life, dude. And like I said, I’ve got my coping strategies. They’re not perfect, but they work alright, and I’ll be fine. I’m lucky enough to live in a place with lots of other people around.

Sidebar: several years ago, when I was in my 2nd year of teaching, I lived and worked in a very suburban (nearly rural) community in the Bible belt of the Lower Mainland. I didn’t know anyone outside of where I worked, and everyone there was married and with kids except me (well there was one recently divorced guy, but he wasn’t very friendly, or social). Anyway, let me tell ya — I struggled that year. Holy HELL did I struggle. I was out every night, walking, sitting at the coffee shop, hanging around in the mall (woot — 9pm on Friday in Safeway), trying to make small talk with strangers. I was desperate to be social and it was a painful year. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested for being the creepy, overly-friendly and smiley 20something at Starbucks every night…

That’s not to say that sometimes I don’t need my own time to just be alone. Heck yeah, I need that. I just find that I don’t need (or want) it when I’m tired. I’m getting better at recognizing when I do need it — like many extroverts, I often find myself so over-scheduled with social events that I don’t listen to my body/mind until I’m ready to drop. Because I get energy from all these events and people, I completely forget that I need time for myself until I suddenly come home one day to realize I haven’t done laundry in 3 weeks and there’s no food in the fridge, and I can’t remember how it got to that point. I could really relate to this article about how extroverts often don’t pay attention to the signs when we’ve crossed the line into exhaustion. It’s one of my personal goals this year to learn to recognize this better in myself.

I digress. Well, I’m not entirely sure where I was going with this… except to resolve that I am going to aim to always have plans on Friday night. Not wild party plans — I’m well past that — but just sit and talk to someone plans. Anyone game?

And if not, you might see me wandering around the reservoir or the mall… me, the creepy, overly-friendly and smiley 30something (hah! barely!) trying to chat up strangers about which wine they’re drinking, their favourite walking route, or how long this road construction is meant to last. Heck, tonight I even talked to a stray dog who was pretty intent on following me halfway home. He wasn’t rude, but he wasn’t what I needed either. He was the bruschetta on the menu.

… and I’m still searching for pizza!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


I’m a bit astonished that I don’t have more posts about food on this blog. It’s truly a thing that nourishes me both physically and spiritually. I get that lots of people are foodies… gawd, just look at the number of food blogs out there these days… but my relationship with food is one that goes well beyond what is on the plate.

We all have childhood connections to food. It’s impossible not to, as food is necessary to stay alive, so at some point in each person’s life is a food memory or fifty. I happen to have more like fifty squillion. I grew up in a household and a family where food was A Thing. A Really Big Thing. This is primarily because of my dad’s side of the family — that is, the Italian-Ukranian side. We have two professional chefs on that side of the family (my dad’s eldest sister and his youngest brother) and at least 11 amateurs-who-cook-like-professionals. I’d like to think I’m in that category some days. Haha. 🙂 Food is something we talk about often, and seriously. Conversations that could have loose titles such as “The Best Coleslaw I Ever Came Across — You Won’t Believe!” have been known to last for hours, nay… days! at my Gran’s house when “the whole gang” is there. The hyperbolic title is intentional; the way my family talks about food you’d think we just discovered it yesterday — we get that excited. It is A Really Big Thing, as I said. 

Within the past week, I have had several conversations about food in my place of work, at a hawker stall, and at two delectable restaurants whose fare I’ve sampled as part of Restaurant Week. Tonight’s meal, at IKYU, was delicious, innovative, visually beautiful (I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos!), and attentively served. I often feel energized talking about food, and rarely feel drained by these conversations. I’m curious about the science of food (chemistry, biology, and physics, oh my!), the art of it, and the production of it. I’m also curious about different cuisines, preparation techniques, training, and design. There is no end to the directions conversations can take when food is the topic.

Within the past week, I have had no less than four separate conversations with four different groups of people about mushrooms alone. Two of those conversations grew out of colleagues inquiring about my lunch choice, as they saw and smelled my meal (one of my favourites, a variation on this tasty recipe). One was with a friend of a friend who shares my love for mushrooms. I can’t even remember how we started talking about it, just that the more we talked about it, the more excited I got. The last one was with someone close to me who confessed to not loving mushrooms, but only liking them. I learned something from each of these conversations too — and now have new ideas about using mushrooms in future dishes. I love living in Asia because of all the mushroom options! I often say that when I moved here, I traded in the cheese aisle (something I still fantasize about from my days living in the land of Sainsbury) for the mushroom “island” at the grocery store.

Today’s truth is difficult to pin down succinctly. It’s something about the importance of food appreciation — but not just the singularity of appreciating good food, but also about the importance of sharing that appreciation. I am always looking for something to bring me back to my Gran’s kitchen… whether it’s food to remind me of the food that I grew up with there (pasta, holopchi, baccala, and Mrs. Ehnes’s chocolate cake), or just remind me of the kinds of enthusiastic conversations one can have about food … this is a mission, a passion, and an ethos all in one.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stealing my soul

I’ve written about music so many times before on this blog. It’s clear it’s something that’s important to me, perhaps so much so that it’s become trite. I mean, who doesn’t like music, right? We are all experts in the things that we love and which move us.

There are times, though, when we encounter a musical experience that feels connected to our very essence. An experience that makes us so immediately vulnerable that a stranger could sweep in and steal our soul — an experience that raw, that open. Last night’s Robert Glasper Experiment gig was one of those experiences. It was very similar to the experience I had when Esperanza Spalding was in town last year at the same time (for the same festival — don’t get me started on how sad I am that the Mosaic festival is no more after this year). It’s also a similar experience to those I had in my early 20s when I was discovering all kinds of new-to-me vibes — Roy Ayers, Maceo Parker, Medeski Martin & Wood, Hugh Fraser, Oliver Gannon, De La Soul, NuYorican Soul and the DJ team of Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzales. As I said in my last post, in these instances, I can almost feel my brain chemistry changing. I can feel the neurons saying to each other, “What the ffffff!!!! ZOMG that’s so similar to this thing I know about wayyyyyyy back here [digging up Sade, Bobby Caldwell, The Four Tops, James Taylor], but duuuuuuuude, it’s way spicier! It’s the same, but different! And I love it! MORE MORE MORE!”

Daniel Levitin would say this is precisely what is happening, and is exactly why we love music, and why we gravitate toward specific tracks by artists we know and love. Btw, if you’re a music lover and have NOT read that book, go purchase it now. Now now now now now. It will change the way you think about what you listen to. It is fascinating, and one of my Top 10 books of all time. I have purchased it as a gift for exactly 5 people.

Today I just wanted to express my gratitude for

  1. exposure to this kind of music. If I had never been exposed, I never would have known.
  2. access to this kind of live music — it’s not always cheap, but I am grateful that this fits into my budget and lifestyle.
  3. all the people in my life who influence my musical tastes. Some will never know how influential they have been.

One day I will write a proper tribute to

…  the sales floor dude at A&B records in Vancouver, circa 1994, who spent more than an hour with me, opening CDs for me to listen to, talking me through the Brand New Heavies’ albums and sharing which other artists their producers had worked with. I discovered SO MUCH music from that conversation it is ridiculous. That conversation still influences my choices today.

… my hip-hop B-boy online boyfriend, circa CompuServe, 1995-1996: Anacron from L.A. (but originally from Chicago), an artist in his own right who spent hours online chatting and on the phone with me, talking me through Roy Ayers, Maceo Parker, the origins of hip hop in The Bronx, the differences between NYC-style hip hop and Chicago-style hip hop, and everything in between. I so valued his expertise, his story-telling, and his caring nature.

… and a few other kindred music spirits who influenced my music in ways they probably don’t realize.

In the meantime, my gratitude will be manifested in how artists like Robert Glasper, Derek Hodge, Esperanza Spalding, Jill Scott (and many more) make music that feels connected to my very essence, that makes me so immediately vulnerable that a stranger could sweep in and steal my soul … an experience that raw, that open.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nobody told me

It’s Sunday night, 11:09pm.

I am sipping champagne (real champagne) and listening to Robert Glasper Experiment.

(I love that his band is called “experiment.” More things should have this label. More people should be honest about what they are doing. Do we ever really know?)

I am listening to Robert Glasper because I have a ticket (just me) to his show tomorrow at Esplanade as part of the (last, ever) Mosaic Music Festival.

I saw Robert Glasper perform with Vijay Iyer (another favorite) at NYU’s Skirball Center in 2011 — nearly 3 years ago to the day — when I was still able to get student discounts and rock up 5 min before the show began because I lived 4 blocks away.

Nobody told me that while living in NYC, I would have access to up-and-coming artists and I wouldn’t even know they were up-and-coming.

Nobody told me that living in NYC, I would have music and artistry and design and creativity around me in the f*cking air…. that just sitting on a park bench in Washington Square Park for 5 minutes, I would absorb more innovative and expressive material than I would if I dedicated 3 hours of my life to such a thing in any other city in the world.

Nobody told me that I would find musicality in the rhythms of the street.

Nobody told me that I would have access to top-notch live professional performers simply for having a student ID that got me crazy-ass discounts all over the 5 boroughs.

Nobody told me that I would become addicted to seeing these top-notch live professional performers as a result of my crazy-ass discounts.

Nobody told me that I would never again find the calibre, energy, and ambiance created by these top-notch live professional performers outside of NYC.

This is a sin.

Nobody told me that I would miss this.

Nobody told me that these kinds of performers, this kind of music, would mess with my brain chemistry in ways unchallenged since 1993….  those days when I first discovered experimental jazz, funk, soul, neo-soul, and house… when I was discovering names like Maceo Parker, Brad Mehldau, Medeski Martin and Wood, Roy Ayers, Nuyorican Soul, MosDef, Roy Hargrove, and The Roots.

Nobody told me that my musical brain chemistry would be altered again, because of NYC.

Nobody told me that I would find myself in Asia, nostalgic for something I had never experienced a few years prior.

Nobody told me that I would again be able to afford drinking champagne, like I could when I lived “the fine expat life” in Qatar and Vietnam.

Nobody told me that I would, in fact, become accustomed to drinking champagne quite regularly (despite high alcohol taxes).

Nobody told me that I would be so privileged.

Nobody told me that in Singapore I would have access to many — though not all — of the same performers I had seen in NYC, for various reasons, these performers come through a circuit of AustralAsia.

Nobody told me that I would see these performers in Singapore, in state-of-the-art venues, for a fraction of what I would pay in NYC.

Nobody told me I would still miss the experience of having seen them perform in NYC.

Nobody told me that I would forever be nostalgic for NYC, because no experience compares to it. Ever.

Nobody told me that living in NYC would change me forever.


It has changed me. Forever.

And I have come to accept the fact (I think… ) that I will always struggle with not living there. That always, a piece of me will wish I were there. That this will never go away. That nowhere else will be the same as NYC, especially when it comes to music and art.

It is okay. A piece of me will always be there.

And that is also okay.

I’m making peace with that piece.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the path of moderate resistance

It had been a while since I’d been to a yoga class. I mean, I practice yoga nearly (yes, nearly) every morning. I have a fairly regular routine. I hit all the right spots. I feel good. My body likes me in the mornings, and I can’t imagine not moving when I get out of bed most mornings. This has become a normal way to start my day.

But a class?

Tonight, when I sat on my mat in the studio, it felt a bit like I was going to confession. I searched my brain trying to remember when the last time I had been to a class was. Forgive me, yoga mat, for I have sinned… it has been… (thinking, thinking, thinking) 4 months since my last yoga class. I hadn’t been since…  November? Really? Had it really been that long? Would I remember anything? Can I even breathe properly anymore?

I am ashamed to say that this might be the longest lapse I’ve had since I first began to study yoga seriously in 2007. Prior to that I dipped in and out, non-committed and experimental. But since 2007 I had been pretty durned devout. And now this lapse. There were several reasons. Injuries. Laziness. Busy-ness. New job-ness. November was the month I worked more days than possibly ever in my career before, and travelled to two different countries doing some of that work. Yeah, I was pretty much slipping off the yoga wagon with every bump in the road…

And so here we are, today. Today was a challenge. The week has been a challenge. They all are, I suppose, in different ways. It’s no surprise that I was going to get to a point in the same bumpy road where I’d had enough tottering around aimlessly and I wanted to get back on the yoga wagon, dammit.

So. Yoga. Tonight. Get past the shame… and just get on the mat.

Restorative class. Ahhhhhh, yes.

We are going to hold poses for 3-5 minutes each, the teacher says. Fabulous. I can ease into everything, clear my mind, and focus on the moment.

First pose: a modified butterfly, the teacher says. Great. I know this. I don’t want to call all of the poses by their regular names, the teacher says. I am perplexed. She continues. Because this is a yin class, I don’t want you to have an expectation of what this pose should look like. It’s not a regular pose. Find your own version of this pose, and make it comfortable. Okay. I can do that. And so I do. Ahhh.

We are three poses in when I am reaching toward my right ankle and I notice that my hamstring is tighter than usual. The teacher’s words come at the perfect time. Move until you meet resistance, then stop there. Do not go past that resistance. Sit with it until it is comfortable. If you need to, pull back a little bit — not too much, you still want to push forward — but stay there and then ease into the resistance again, and sit there until you feel your body no longer resist. Once you feel that, the release of the resistance, it means you can then go a little deeper, a bit further. Don’t push it — don’t go further if you feel resistance. 

And there it is. I feel my eyes well up. My lips are twitching. I am suddenly thinking of all the places in my life where I am not paying attention. All the relationships in which I am trying to move past resistance, where I am pushing too hard and too often. And it suddenly makes sense. Of course it does, it all does! I think of how I broke my leg last year — a stress fracture caused by pushing too hard past resistance. It’s the same. In relationships of all kinds, including those with my body, I push too hard and too often when I should just be sitting in that slightly uncomfortable in-between zone of “Ooooh.. this doesn’t feel great but it doesn’t feel awful either.. let’s just hang out here until the uncomfortableness fades” because after that is when the good stuff happens. After that is when I can push forward again, a bit deeper this time, because by then all the relevant parts are primed and ready for it. I’m just not usually patient enough to follow this process, dammit. I want change and I want it now. And such an attitude clearly doesn’t work so well.

Cue Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil would ask me if I’m getting what I really want and need. Is my approach, my habit, my behaviour working for me? Am I getting what I need? I’m gonna say in this case… no. So, forget about intentions (there’s Dr. Phil again). I need to start changin’ things up. I need to start paying attention and staying put for a bit when I meet resistance.

I need to meet resistance where it is, and listen. And just stay there for a while until what was once resistant becomes comfortable. And then — only then — go deeper. 



[You’ll notice that it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Yeah, doing that is kind of my deal. I go-go-go-go-go and then take a 6ish month sabbatical, while I do other things. It’s never a proper “break.” It’s a re-direct, a sideways walkabout.]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

diversity makes me happy

I am idealist. I’ve known this for a very long time — since I was a teenager and got into arguments with my mother about reality versus the ideal. I’m very glad my mum is a pragmatist because I think she gave my idealistic nature a very healthy balance in terms of how it — I — can survive in the real world.

But still, I am an idealist.

My ideal world involves people from all cultures, creeds, races, backgrounds, ages, orientations, class, and more. My ideal world involves all of these people getting along happily and thriving in shared communities. I know this sounds like some rainbow-laced fairy-tale-land, and I don’t care. This is my ideal. My ideal includes abundant diversity.

It’s rare that I’ve felt like I’ve been in a place or experience that fits this description. Honestly, most of my experience in NYC fits into this, in some way. I was a member of pretty diverse communities there. Most of the city itself is diverse, and this is a big part of its beauty for sure. I’ve had similar feelings about time spent in Vancouver and London; both these cities had diverse communities, though in London I felt more on the periphery than in Vancouver or NYC. (I could say more about why; it boils down to class and socio-economic status, but these reasons are beyond the scope of tonight’s post.)

I do think my desire for an ideal of abundant diversity is one of the reasons I’m drawn to a lifestyle of existential migration: I feel a deep, visceral need to connect with people who are totally different than me. I value diversity more than many, many other things — money, fame, security, safety, and sometimes even health. Connecting with people different — on the exterior —  than myself provides me with many opportunities that I cannot imagine having experienced otherwise to discover how similar we all are — on the interior. Through our differences, we become more similar. And, the repeated discovery for me in all of this is that the human experience is universal.

Tonight I went to an edgy, pushing-the-limits art show. It was unlike anything I’ve ever been to here in Singapore. It was a show-slash-exhibit-slash-live performance space-slash-community art venue-slash-flea market. I told my friend Alaine — the dance educator who had invited me, also a former New Yorker — that I felt like I was in Brooklyn. When the power cut out for 20 minutes, she turned to me and said, “Yep, Bushwick.”

The theme, displacement, was one that Singaporeans and foreigners alike can relate to, and it was treated in ways I would never have dreamed, in media I’d never have considered: video, sculpture (with seeds!), textiles, music, screen printing, and the more traditional oil paints and photography. It challenged my mind.

And the crowd was diverse. Young, old, baby, mother, child, father, singles, couples, ah lian, ah beng, hipster, executive, black, white, yellow, red, male, female, in between, French, Malay, Indonesian, English, Indian, Dutch, Chinese… I lost track. And I love that I did. I felt so comfortable. 

I love it when communities come together like this. Diversity is good. It makes me happy. I thrive in it.

And I truly, in the deepest part of my heart, believe we are all wired to thrive in diversity. I see it as one of the biggest challenges facing our modern world, daring us to evolve.

I hope we take it on with grace and openness and empathy.

from a trip to Pakistan in April 2006

Another welcome song, different school


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little things: limes

Tonight, I had a beautiful cuba libre.

Okay, you caught me — I had TWO beautiful cuba libres.

The first one was with their “house pour” spiced rum, which I think was a Bacardi Gold of some kind (I didn’t see it, but this is my guess). It was beautiful.

The second one was with Mount Gay rum, at my request. It was even more beautiful.

Both were beautiful, the second more than the first. Both were beautiful because the bartender had put in 3 squeezed calamansi limes each time.

In a world where most bars don’t even know how to properly mix a cuba libre (no, it’s not just a rum and coke), and even if they do, they might toss in one pithy lime wedge, this just made my night.

Which, of course, is why I had two.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


… makes the heart grow.


My break has been unintentional. I’ve been at a conference. I took some time off — a whole weekend — for myself. I’m wrapping up a two-year stint in a workplace that has become increasingly more difficult to endure.

My accidental break (from writing, not the one in my right leg) left me feeling good. I missed this space but at the same time being away made me feel intimidated by it. I think that’s a good place to be.

I will keep writing, and I will aim for every day, but I’m increasingly more aware of how those breaks are important to me. They give me space to ponder without feeling the need to produce. I’ve taken unintentional and intentional breaks from this space before, and until this time have felt guilt about it… like I owed somebody something. But I’ve never been good at all-or-nothing binaries, and that includes this New Year’s Resolution Experiment, I guess. I’m not so good with the all. The pressure of the all makes me want to do … nothing.

It’s okay. I will find the middle way. I usually do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

dropping balls

I don’t mind when

… you’re stressed out and have too many things on your plate, and so you have to change your commitment level

… things don’t necessarily get done in the order they are supposed to, or via the intended route

… we have a different organizational style, approach, or planning method

or even when

… the goal posts shift a little bit and we have to make things up as we go, or gather new resources

I don’t mind any of these things. I can handle them all.


As long as you tell me. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment