May 31, 2012

  • Awkward ~ an introvert pretending to be an extrovert…


    It is time for the final push to get ready for the upcoming Rotary year.  I am amazingly busy and excited all at the same time.  Naturally this means that I am interacting more with all types of members right now.  Of course this is wonderful but the quantities of interaction are infinitely greater than the comfort level for any introvert. I am an INTJ.  Most people getting ready to start this Rotary job would be overwhelmed with the workload.  I don’t view that as my weak spot.  It is the social spotlight that makes me uncomfortable.

    I realize that most people don’t know or wouldn’t peg me as an introvert.  I have three topics that I tend to talk that are safely within my comfort zone: Rotary, work and dogs.  I have noticed that as a result of the number of meetings I am having, I am beginning to show some of the introvert tendencies even when talking about these “comfortable” subjects.  I can not choose my words as comfortably so I stumble upon my own vocabulary, I repeat myself and then after the meeting, I hone in on some small trip up and think about how unsophisticated I look for about two hours.  Typical introvert behavior.  Feels awful.

    Now isn’t the time to slow it down.  Now is the time for me to have more meetings.  Some of these meetings are for me to just get to know people better.  Most of the people that I spend time with are like meeting old friends.  They are both interesting and wonderful! But it still overloads my introvert mind.  

    I hate perpetually feeling awkward.  I am currently working with a fellow Rotarian that is also an introvert on a new project.  This person has channelled their talents into creating something special for this new project.  This effort takes infinite hours and will serve as a powerful and compelling tool for this project.  I understand the level of satisfaction that comes from this type of work as I am doing some of these things too however I have to find the balance between this behind the scenes time and the out in the public time.  Right now I think I have to accept awkward as the new normal.  It will probably slow down a bit around mid July, early August.  Until then, I need to breathe and slow down more in conversation.  These people are my friends.  This is a volunteer job that I means a lot to me.  I have one shot at doing a great job but I wish for just a few months, I could be an extrovert.  The extroverts that I know thrive in these environments.  Time to take a few cues from an extrovert. 

May 5, 2012

  • One Night in Bangkok…

    I have not yet been in Bangkok for 24 hours but I know it is time to check in.


    It was a very long journey.  We started out at 5:30 am Atlanta time.  Our flight was around 8:30am to LAX.  We had a two hour layover in LAX then it was off to Tokyo.  I have a terrible time sleeping on airplanes and the flight was extraordinarily long.  I watched FIVE movies.  To put that in context, I don’t watch five movies in a month at home.  I would say, I am well caught up on Hollywood.  

    Then, as often happens in Rotary, something unexpected and great happened.  We landed in Tokyo (which would be around 4am Atlanta time) and I ran into one of my favorite Rotary couples, Bob and Charlene Hall!  They had just flown in from Seattle.  Now all four of us were completely wiped out but certainly you wouldn’t know from the 10,000 watt smiles the Halls were wearing.  As we made it through security and to the gate, we met a HOST of other Rotarians from Atlanta, Florida, Canada, etc.. In fact the flight was (guess here) over 50% Rotarians and that was just what I could determine from the logo shirts and/or pins.  They the gate was bustling with “where are you from”?  It was as if we had already arrived in Bangkok, excited to meet people and we still had a seven hour flight to go!

    Finally we boarded and arrived in Bangkok.  It was after 1am Bangkok time, 86 degrees and we had a few pop up storms.  It was too late to get any food so we settled in with a bag of chips and a minibar small bottle of wine.

    The hotel breakfast was a display of multiculturalism.  You could dine on anything from an omelette to miso soup to croissants!  So steering clear of meat and dairy, I enjoyed chana masala for breakfast!  After a leisurely meal, Mark and I ventured to the tailor.  I have always heard that custom suits were very reasonably priced in Thailand and I have had my eye on the suit that Sandra Bullock wore in “The Proposal” from the moment I saw it.  So I picked a nice fabric and was measured galore for the suit.  I also snuck in a very conservative dress.  Both items were reasonably priced and IMHO a steal compared to what I would pay at home for the same items.  In a few days the items will be done and I will have a final fitting!

    Then it was time to make it to the famous Bangkok market.  It was an easy train ride from our hotel to the market.  By this time it was early afternoon, HOT and fantastically humid.  I expected a lot of pollution and was pleasantly surprised that unless you were trapped behind a bus, breathing was clear and easy.  We saw all types and shapes of items from clothing to shoes to art to refreshing beverages made of coconut!  It was of course, overwhelming but we spent many hours interacting with vendors and enjoying their wares.  We did come out with some interesting items including paper, clothing and art. This was accompanied by plenty of interesting food and beverages to keep us going. Just as we were making it back to the train station we were caught in a terrible deluge but as fast as it came, it dissipated before we were soaked to the bone.  

    We made it back to the hotel tired, sticky and quite happy for our first night in Bangkok.  Tomorrow, all the festivities of the Rotary International conference begin.  Tonight will be an early evening as we are just exhausted and don’t want to miss anything that the international conference has to offer!


December 10, 2011

  • Acceptance as a Yogi…


    It has been a rough few weeks.  I have been fortunate that with a strict change in diet and following the Dr.’s advice my body has gotten stronger and stronger so it was time to reduce my medicine.  Great ~ or so I thought.  

    I was put on a synthetic thyroid hormone.  I have been on this medicine before but it had been years.  The first two weeks of the adjustment is always the hardest.  Sometimes I feel worse before I feel better.  This time was really hard.  But it was hard in a different way.  By the end of the first week I had terrible joint pain in my hands and feet, I lost my drive for many things that I usually enjoy, my face become incredibly dry and irritated and of course the fatigue set in. 

    By the end of the second week, it wasn’t just an adjustment.  I had full blown rosacea, swollen hands and feet, tightness when I tried a full deep inhale and heartburn.  I had an allergic reaction to the new medication.  I was able to change back quickly but I had to heal from these symptoms.  

    Of course this made yoga very hard for me.  I had little energy and was in pain.

    Yoga is my personal time.  I find it peaceful however I have a fundamental flaw in my thinking.  I expect that my practice always improves and I base that improvement on how flexible I am, my ability to balance etc..  This is the the most un-yogic thing I could possibly do. 

    My teacher pulled me aside and told me to go slow, don’t do any of the jumping back or jumping through which is a big part of the vigorous nature of Ashtanga.  I followed her instruction and although it was tough for me to dial it down, by the time class was over, my joints had loosened up, my breathing steadied and I felt more relaxed.  I took it easy throughout the next day and went again the next night and had a similar experience.  I did it again the next day but this time I was exhausted.  I hardly had the energy to get through Surya Namaskara A and B.  And that was when the magic kicked in.  

    The beauty of mysore style is that you go at your own pace.  You have to listen to your body and my body said, one breath at a time.  I only had slow breaths and slow gentle movements.  I didn’t have the energy for judgement.  I went, at a snails pace from posture to posture.  It was amazing!  It was the first time I fully accepted the MOMENT and understood the journey of yoga.  So many times I have been told how well you do the postures is completely irrelevant and I refused to accept this.  Finally I did, and now, after years of studying multiple types of yoga, I understand.  

    I went to a yoga workshop this weekend with the diminished capacity and it didn’t matter at all to me.  I took it as a time to just have some a chance to focus and breathe.  I didn’t go out of my way to overdo it in any posture.  I just went at my own pace, got a few adjustments and spent time with friends.  I was able to enjoy the beauty of my practice and the practice of others.  I did a great job of totally botching sanskrit, falling on my rear end in bujapidasana and finding joy and laughter in “oopppsss” moments.  I was able to go without having expectations other than being open to having fun.  I got exactly what I wanted.  

    I am most grateful for the support of my teacher and yogi buddies.  You don’t learn acceptance when you are at the top of your game.  You learn it when you are struggling.  Now that I feel like I have an idea of how to let it go, I know that each class can bring me even more peace and comfort than before.  Each class is an opportunity for me.  Finally after years, I have learned one of the most important lessons of the practice. 

November 26, 2011

  • I’m Just Not Feeling That Holiday Spirit…


    It has been a long time since I have blogged.  In the interim, I have spent the past four months on a strict vegan diet, reduced both my adrenal and thyroid meds and am working hard at continuing the road to improved health.  

    I am finding that this does a job on your moods.  I gave up meat and dairy in order to help the joint aches that I feel during ashtanga yoga.  It has helped.  But as my adrenals get stronger, my thyroid meds have to appropriately respond to things and I have just come to the conclusion that hormonal imbalances are the third tier of hell.  

    I am anything BUT in the holiday spirit.  I’m the Grinch.  (Little known fact about me is that I named my border collie after the dog in The Grinch so I even have my own Max).  I didn’t care about Thanksgiving, am looking at my Xmas list and counting down through it just as I would house chores.  No excitement about making others happy as I usually experience.  

    I went to Target today and even drug out my Xmas tree (drug it out, no decorating yet) and three dog Santa suites (revenge as two of them pooped on the concrete patio right after I cleaned it) and NOTHING.  I don’t want to hear a Xmas song or break out trimmings for the tree. 

    So I did ashtanga at home to try to lift my moods.  Yikes.  I never realized how much of a huge difference a great yoga community can make!  I actually felt horribly discouraged while working postures that challenged me because I wasn’t with my yoga buddies.  We don’t have to speak during practice but you know that you have people supporting you.  Today I felt like the grinch and I attacked my own practice. 

    It is sunny outside, I had much to be Thankful for yet have a huge sour puss face.  :(  I wish I could grab a little bit of that holiday sparkle in order to lift my mood.  I am only within a week of the new levels of medicines so I am still in the transition but just damn.  Nobody wants to be a grinch during the holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Maybe I’ll put a set of antlers on Max and see what happens. …

October 2, 2011

  • Ah anxiety~ why do I treat you as a friend?


    I have this great propensity to worry.  I mean I could participate in the anxiety Olympics.  

    At 5am yesterday, my iPad NOAA weather radio AP woke me regarding fire hazards in the area.  When this happens on a Saturday morning, you and your partner notice.  He was put off that yet another alarm went off and he got up to work.  I went back to bed. 

    So last night I had a house full of family member celebrating three birthdays and I thought it would be a great fall night to enjoy wine by the fire pit.  Sure enough although we doused the area with water and the fire naturally was about out before we doused the fire pit completely, I got up twice in the middle of the night to check it.  I took a small piece of information that was only a warning and surmised a mountain out of it.  I disregarding the facts that multiple people, myself included check the fire and put plenty of water on it.  I disregarded the opinion of others that everything was fine.  I put myself into hyperdrive worry mode.

    My damn NOAA ap went off again this morning at 5am and again woke us both.  This time I took it in a completely wrong direction.  I jumped “to the worst conclusion in a single bound” about something else entirely.  Enough so to make me almost to the point on needing to run to the bathroom to be ill.  I said something that may not have even been heard and at 5am (when everyone is always sharp and at their best) I made a horrible assumption and am now, instead of sleeping practicing again for the anxiety Olympics.

    From what I am learning I am guessing that anxiety is much worse for introverts as we spend so much time mulling about things to ourselves we naturally turn over a situation so many times that we can become trapped in our own poor conclusions.  This technique works well for problem solving but not for emotions.  We spin and stir and at the end of the day sacrifice time in joy with time in anxiety, time when we feel nauseated, distressed, in blaming ourselves for our own shortcomings in a situation that most likely, isn’t real to begin with.  

    I used to have terrible anxiety attacks as a result of a medication that I am taking.  They usually occurred between 10 pm and 3 am and would toss me into the realm of full blown, hyperventilation and panic.  The first time it happened I discretely excused myself from the table and took some medicine for it.  The medicine only took it down about 50% and it was so massive that 50% reduction was still not enough to even grasp for a rational thought.  Thankfully, that only happens rarely and the attacks are almost wimpy compared to their counterparts.  I learned when I was struck awake to tell myself that what I was feeling was not real and to calm the racing thoughts.  Sometimes I was so successfull at this that I was able to go back to sleep right away.  Other times, it took some winding down time to feel at ease again.

    I spend little time “at ease”.  The worry about the fire and this mornings possible miscommunication feels real to me.  I should know better about paper tigers but as hard as I try to balance my anxiety with my propensity for rational thought, I can’t seem to successfully reduce this mountain of useless, harmful emotion.  This one may take me several days to work through on extremely limited feedback.  I will throw myself into yoga, work, social time, the dogs, my renovation project and particularly Rotary (as I am behind on some of my goals) but these are distractions, not solutions.  The solution is peace.  It is acceptance that I sometimes have these powerful fear based emotions and then letting them go.  At moments like this, I feel that I have a better shot at splitting the atom.   

September 24, 2011

  • It Never Leaves My Mind…


    I joined Rotary years ago because of the opportunity to make a difference in the world.  Certainly this has come with an array of side bonuses especially those of great friendships.   As my focus has always been projects it is no surprise that as I progressed in Rotary I was always keeping an eye on how we can improve our projects.  I also try to keep an eye on people behind the projects.  People with passion.  People with determination.  People that want to bring attention to groups that change lives.  

    I have come to the time that my position as an officer of my club moves me from project focus to overall club focus.  But those people behind the projects never leave my mind.  These are the ones that my job is to serve in Rotary so that they can, in turn serve the community.

    For around two weeks now, I have become particularly anxious about one of these members.  He is in ill health and one event that will focus on his charitable passion is about to take place and he may not be able to attend.  It fills me with sadness as last year he was unable to attend because of a family tragedy.  I feel empty when a recognize the dreams of a member that can not enjoy the fruits of their labor. 

    I don’t even personally know this member well, we have never even had the chance to enjoy a meeting at the same table but his drive and contribution never leaves my mind.  I can’t wave a magic wand and make him well, but I sure wish I had a way to bridge the gap between this small but important dream of his, and his ability to enjoy it first hand.  

August 25, 2011

  • Sad Mac


    It was 1987 when I got my first Mac.  I was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon.  It cost $2,300 then and was impossible to succeed at CMU without your own Mac.  You lived on it.  It was the precursor to everything we do today.  I communicated via email, was sent my first IM asking me out on a date, checked status of items I needed at the library and stored my projects on our server.  There was no fancy GUI as we know it but thanks to Apple, I was off and running into my lifetime of nerd-om.


    I remember my senior year when said Mac died on me.  I felt the equivalent level of nakedness as you feel today when you have lost your phone.  We had a max of two hours in reservation of systems in each computer lab so I would spend my days prior to graduation jumping from lab to lab trying to recreate all of my projects.  Those were sleepless nights but soon thereafter I graduated and of course, got another Mac.

    Fast forward to today.  I have my fourth iPhone, an Ipad, two Apple TVs, a Macbook Air and IMac.  Before he met me, my honey didn’t own an ipod now he has three, and an ipad 2.  One of his sons now has a Macbook Pro and an ipod.  


    It doesn’t matter if you even OWN an Apple product.  Thanks to Steve Jobs and his vision and tenacity, the way you interact with any computer, access the internet, send an electronic message was shaped by Apple.  It doesn’t matter if you are reading this via Windows and on your Android phone, the user interface on that Windows system and the aps on your Android area result of keeping up with the vision of Apple.  


    I have always been a HUGE fan of Steve Jobs.  I have a great admiration of the infinate coolness he brought to being smart.  He worked with other brilliant people to push ideas that would make technology easier and more affordable.  He went so far that just a few days ago, Apple had more cash on hand than the US government.  I feel like one of those people that wants to vacation to Graceland.

    Now, Steve Jobs has resigned from Apple.  I feel a great sadness.  Apple will continue to be a great company but Elvis has left the building.  


August 13, 2011

  • Whale Watching in Juneau…


    Wow, did we get lucky!  Barely a cloud in the sky today in Juneau.  Apparently it has been raining for days in this area yet today we got the perfect day to take a boat out and watch for whales.  We saw SEVERAL pods of humpback whales!  Additionally we saw Stellar seals!  Enjoy!



    Look we got a wave!!!!!  


August 12, 2011

  • I’m Afraid of Heights…AND NO PHONE!


    This morning I did a tour by air of a glacier area outside of Anchorage, AK.  I am afraid of heights but here I am:

    Yes that is me sitting next to our pilot.  Quite brave of me I must add.  Fortunately visibility was wonderful and we only hit a few bumps.  Each bump of course caused my hands to sweat profusely while I held a death grip on my camera.  We landed in the water near a glacier so I was able to get a few shots from the water as well.  Please enjoy a vicarious experience of the day.  OHHHHH and BTW my unlocked, jailbroken iPhone that forces you to cut your sim card to fit is totally done, over, put a fork in it.  This means no phone calls for me for … 9 more days?  Annoying or divine intervention?  You decide…  But I will be checking email…


July 29, 2011

  • Choosing the Battle or Defending the Weak…

    I remember one day in college, I went toe to toe with a guy in class over who could quote the most Shakespeare “one liners”.  It was ridiculous.  Why did I choose that battle?  Because he was a bully.  He and I were in multiple classes where we did in depth critiques of original work by our classmates.  He was brutal and not in a productive way.  He was a typical bully that used harsh insults to attempt to bring everyone around him down to his level instead of simply improving his own game.  His work was certainly good but not to the outstanding level of some of our classmates.  

    These classes were brutal and personal to each of us.  One time I had a professor rip the first two pages off one of my stories and throw it in the trash to start the discussion.  It went further to hell after that as you can imagine. This type of critique was common from professors (but not students) and part of getting used to taking criticism and learning what edits to use.  The bully was never harsh to me but he was to everyone else.  After several classes with the bully I had had enough.  So when I got my chance, I kept him in check.  It was a goofy medium but it worked.  He backed down.

    I didn’t have a personal issue with him, but I felt compelled than when I had the chance, it was my job to defend others.  Those that were unreasonably being pounded upon.

    Aside from business where my industry can be harsh and certainly patronizing to a female (and it is my job to defend), I have two issues that make me decide to “jump into” a battle.  One is when I see someone in a weak position, being treated poorly.  The other is when someone is in a leadership position and takes actions contradictory to the principles they govern by.  

    I had a situation this week where I did decide to choose a battle.  This person absolutely crunched another person that I know.  A person that is kind hearted, a hard worker and absolutely brilliant.  A rare gem of a human. This “bully” most likely does not rise to the term bully but is ignorant and this ignorance coupled with a gross lack of panache caused great harm.  The kind hearted person was in my office a few weeks ago for unrelated business and started to cry the situation was so bad.  This person is in the position to offer great services and the “non bully” was preventing her from wanting to continue her participation.  I happened to come into contact with the “non bully” this week and I did, without reservation, take a swing to keep the situation in check.  When I swing I never pull a punch.

    I don’t take on battles frequently.  I am an INTJ so conflict is extremely draining to me.  By the time I actually participate in conflict I have mulled through a situation so deeply that I am well prepared and tenacious.  I never shoot from the hip.  I am surprised however each time when I do jump in because I know the cost on the flip side. I could have handled the situation differently however if I had, it would not have been effective.  It was effective however it did cost me.  Did I choose my battle wisely?  When I think of all the kind hearted person does, I absolutely would do it again.  I don’t think I could have done it differently either.  Still, when I do a gut check, I question myself.