Getting in the Zone

I’m talking about the creative zone. I got a call out of the blue yesterday from a friend who is a photographer asking me if I would assist him today for a small wedding at City Hall. I jumped at the chance to follow Joey around and just be part of the day. My primary role was to hold the remote flash, the reflector and the diffuser. They all add great lighting nuances and I’ve been so curious to see how they are used in action. Today was a chance to do that.

Funniest moment of the day was when I arrived at City Hall at 1pm to meet Joey on the steps and there was group of people standing outside taking a family picture, so I walked up and asked the Father if he would like me to take the picture so he could be in it. He liked that idea and just as I was finishing Joey walks up to us….and yes, that was the wedding party. We all laughed because it was so serendipitous!

Very sweet couple. Their names were Kazuyo and Chris. Chris’ immediate famlily and a few friends were there to share the joy. Kazuyo is from Japan. Apparently they met while she was living here and a year ago she went back to her home in Southern Japan to start the VISA process so she and Chris could get married. She had her flight all set to come back to San Francisco to get married and her flight was the day after the earthquake in Japan. Her family is in Southern Japan so they were all fine and airports were still letting the scheduled flights out in those areas, so she got on the plane the next day. Some friends of hers are still trying to help their families who live in areas that were completely devesated.

Kazuyo and Chris had a small ceremony at City Hall which was beautiful. Then I followed Joey around while we did a photo shoot using our gorgeous City Hall as a background. It’s a great place to get married. The newly weds had arranged for us to also go over to Chrissy Field, The Palace of Fine Arts, and finally the top of Nob Hill to complete the wedding day photo shoot before they all celebrated with a family dinner.

I had a really good time just jumping in and assisting Joey. He and I got to chat and I learned a few more things throughout the day. I even brought my camera and took a few of my own shots (shown above) of them while we were waiting around at City Hall. They are nowhere near as compeling as Joey’s but it was fun to play for a day. I told him to call me when he needs help with kids portraits, I love learning more and more about photography. Gets me out of my left brain! Good stuff.

Thank you to Kazuyo, Chris & Joey for letting me join them and tag along today!

Staying Grounded

For months I’ve had a really serious phlemy cough that would not go away. For the last month or so I’ve developed a rash on my back and shoulders, spreading to my cleft area. The cough has gotten better. Without describing it too much, I’ve tried some creams and lotions for the rash and it subsides for a day or two but it hasn’t gone away. Every so often it really flares up and gets itchy and uncomfortable. About a week ago I realized this is a great opportunity to learn more about my body and my lifestyle, with something I know I can heal fairly easily. So I’ve made appointments with different practitioners around different healing modalities. I also need to take care of this before I leave for my trip because I don’t want to be in the sun, eat foods that make it worse or aggravate it. I want to leave for my trip feeling healthy, strong, relaxed and excited. I see this as an opportunity to learn.

First, I went to a Reiki healer (whom I trust for many things) and her opinion was that it had to do with my colon, she suggested I do a colon cleanse. She also said I’m obviously inflamed and I need to stay away from refined sugar & alcohol because that produces heat in the body. My body right now has so much heat inside that it’s looking for a way to get out, so it is showing up in skin, trying to get released from inside and tell me something. I’m listening to what she’s saying and trying to listen to my body, I also realize at this stage, I don’t really understand.

Then, I went to an acupuncturist whom I also really trust. She took a look and said, I’m inflamed and need to eat cooling foods to help heal it. She also said that I have so much heat in my body it’s looking for a way to get out and the last stage is trying to release through the skin. In Chinese medicine the lungs and the skin are connected. Definitely stay away from refined sugar, alcohol & caffeine. (I only drink green tea regularly) Then, she handed me a list of foods that in Chinese medicine are considered either, cool, cold, neutral, warm or hot. She talked me through what to stay away from while trying to heal the rash and what to become more aware as I change my diet to respond to this for the long term. From the point of view of Chinese medicine, I’m going to take herbs, do regular acupuncture and change my diet. All of these things make sense to me so I’m on board with that. My question is, are the creams I’m using helping or not? Her opinion is hydrocortozone doesn’t help because it pushes the heat back in the body. So the rash goes away for a little while but doesn’t get at the root cause. Interesting.

Friday, I went to Kaiser and saw a dermatologist and my doctor. That was a short appointment. They both said, yep, I’m inflamed, but their opinion was that I need to use a topical steroid cream, to make it go away. I asked her if in her opinion this could be related to my diet, or even to the cough I’ve had. In her opinion, the lungs and the skin are not connected at all. They are two separate organs & thier relationship to each other would not have this effect. In her opinion diet has nothing to do with this either, it’s definitely not an allergic reaction to food. Her advice is to use the steroid cream she’s going to prescribe and it will go away. I left there being clear with her & myself that I was not going to use a steroid cream. I use a steroid inhaler for asthma and I’m thinking about giving that up. So I thanked her for her time and left without picking anything up from the pharmacy.

Next I have an appointment with someone in Berkeley (of course) about Ayurveda Therapy. I’m interested to see what she has to say…

Slowing Down

I keep thinking about what I wrote about being so drained by work that isn’t your purpose or passion. I realized yesterday while I was listening to someone I know who is creating a life around work they love that they get just as drained and run down as the rest of us. It’s really about balance. At least for me, I keep being reminded of that by listening to people, paying attention to what I’m thinking and doing while hearing myself rant about all the self doubt I have around the smallest most insignificant things.

Yesterday, while I was walking down the street before going for a massage I caught myself in this habitual thought about being really angry with a friend who hasn’t made time for me in months. I suddenly stopped myself and mid-silent-rant and said to myself, ” this is not a thought I want to perpetuate and create something in my life. I don’t need to be thinking like this.” Then I was a little shocked when I realized, I have just quit my job, I have enough in my life that I can take the rest of the year off and travel, I know I can make it all work and I am walking around thinking about being angry at a friend who doesn’t give me enough of her time? Come on now Jen, really…. how about walking around thinking about how truly lucky you are to be able to have this time to shift perspective and realign yourself. Much better thought. Besides, she will have her own point of view of this “friendship situation” and I haven’t had much energy to give to anyone in the last year. It’s been at least a year, some might see it as longer. Plus, I’m on my way to get a massage around lunch time on a Thursday. How fantastic is that?

It’s a natural human phenomenon, we all have a favorite theme in life that we habitually go to when we’re feeling tired, stressed out and overwhelmed.We don’t even really realize how often we have those thoughts during the day. Usually because we’re so tired and stressed out. So as I slow down and really start to feel the exhaustion in my body, I’m really getting to know the favorite thoughts my mind likes to attach to when I’m totally out of balance. It’s amazing how lucky I am and how tired and bitchy I can feel… all at once.


As I’m in the middle of my first week of my career break, sabbatical, new journey…whatever I’m calling it this week, I’m really surprised how tired I am. Just the physical toll that slaving away at a job that isn’t your bliss or your life’s work still surprises me. I feel it in my body not just by how drained I feel but also my body is telling me by breaking out in a rash, by having stomach issues come up, tight, tense, muscles in my neck and shoulders. I know that with time, attention and tender loving care I can get my mind and body working together again. I’m just surprised how truly exhausted I feel. I think I expected to be jumping for joy and running around.

Although I went to see “Rock of Ages” last night with some friends and that was a big energy boost. I love 80’s music and the friends I went with do too so it was such a blast to laugh and hear those songs that bring you right back to the awkwardness and silliness of 8th grade and High School. It’s a like a visceral memory for me when I hear REO Speedwagon and Journey. I had to go on Itunes today and remind myself of the cool music I liked then too, like the English Beat, The Clash & The Squeeze. But now as I write this I need to go download some Thompson Twins and keep it real. I’m making a mix…I have too, it was just too nostalgic last night. I could actually see the guy I had the biggest crush on in High School when I heard Extreme, “More than Words”. In fact I’m having lunch with that guy next week…we’ll have to laugh about it…he got in touch with me through Facebook about a year ago. It’s been so nice to reconnect as adults and be able to respect myself for someone I spent so much time pining after in High School. Ironic isn’t it?

That’s really what this time off is about. It’s about finding my heart again. Remembering what it feels like to live from my heart. I’m hoping the mix of slowing down, traveling to new places with new people and then coming home and seeing things differently will help me feel my life from my heart again. I feel like I shut it down so long ago, not even Anders Noyes can bring it back. Only I can, it’s up to me.

It’s all about change…

Feels like everything is about change right now. I just left my cousin Gerrie who’s moving to Cantonsville, MD in a few weeks and I set her up on Skype to keep in touch. She’s lived in the Bay Area her entire life and now she’s moving to a place she’s never been, to live close to her brother and his family and she’s just going to have to learn to adapt. It’s not really her decision either. Change is just thrust upon her and she is going to have to learn to adapt.

Change is something we all need to learn to accept and open to and seems to be thrust upon so many people I know right now. I feel like I’ve had to accept so many changes in the last two years that quitting my job to travel makes me feel like I’m finally getting to the good stuff. As someone once told me, it’s a sign “I’ve suffered well”.

I still have no idea about my trip, when I’m going or what next steps to take. It’s those moments that I’m least afraid, I just trust it will all come together. I went to a 3 hour meditation and restorative yoga class today and really let myself feel how tired and burnt out I am at the moment. I just allowed myself to sink into that feeling and not push through it or power through the rest of the day like I usually do. It’s time to slow down and as hard as it is for me to do I trust things will work out much better in the long run when I learn to slow down.

Leaving Kaiser…

I have to give blogging a try as I experience so many markers that are so hard to talk about during this gigantic life transition that’s happening. Leaving my job, after being at Kaiser for 7 1/2 years was filled with relief, joy, anxiety and just sheer gratitude. I felt so much emotion that starting to blog about my travels has got to start with the send off from all my co-workers mixed with all the celebratory hugs & high fives from friends later on in the evening. Yesterday for my office send off, Loretta made a great basket with a Lonely Planet Guide to Bali & Lombok and had everyone in the office sign it. So as I go through it while planning my trip I keep running into people’s notes to me. The rest of the basket was filled with liquid bandages, an REI giftcard, Liquid Benadryl, anti-diarrhea pills (those will go with the cipro I’m bringing), tide, & wet ones. I really felt the weight of life lift a bit and I could really enjoy those moments.
This morning it still didn’t seem quite real that I quit my job to travel. So I took my Lonely Planet Guide to Bali & Lombok to Samovar to have breakfast and ponder my trip there. My sister-in-law Ann met me there for lunch because I was still there hanging out and I was so happy just catch up and get a hug from her too. That and Kelsey’s yoga class pretty much made up my whole day today. I feel so tired. Like I need to really take things slowly for a little while and just decompress and let go of work. It could take a little while and I just need to let it be what it is.

As I was sitting in Samovar this morning reading through my Lonely Planet Guide from the office I came across Adrian’s good-bye to me and he wrote a quote that I love.

“Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be…close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before”. – Eric Fromm. Thanks Adrian.