I was invited by Basant She several weeks ago to participate in a blogging event called My Monthly Memories and was very excited by this opportunity. I am finally getting to it now even though I am a week past the deadline. The idea was so great that I did not want to let that stop me and not only will I do a February reflection but also a January reflection as well. I’m realizing these reflections are rather long and self-indulgent but it was a thrill to write a narrative of what I’ve learned and why what I do is important to me. I hope you enjoy it as well.
The year started off with a bang of creativity. I started doing stop motion and following stop motion artists on Instagram, participating in Blogging U, connecting to other bloggers, and doing daily poems, photos, and doodles, but it was hard to keep up with on a daily basis simply because there were so many things that I wanted to do (you’ll see what I mean as you keep reading).
Despite not reaching the ambitious level of creative productivity I started the year with, I made three stop motion videos (Stop Motion is the name of the app), several music videos (the app for those is Triller), wrote six poems, three long blog posts about my goals and direction in life, a long blog describing why I appreciate this couple’s art so much, wrote a draft of why I love 80’s dresses, started my adult coloring book, learned a couple songs on the melodica, and took lots great photos of the rain.
With school and classes, I’ve decided to keep moving forward with learning American Sign Language and started my second semester of ASL this month. It’s one day a week with a very low course load but it’s great just to be with a small group of people who are committed to hangingout with each other and being silly (and sometimes fabulously obscene) while learning this beautiful language.
Through the enthusiasm and inspiration I felt learning ASL, I was given the hope to learn another language that has been very important to me throughout my life; Portuguese. Learning Portuguese is something I always wanted to do but I always struggled with. My dad and his side of the family are Brazilian and I wanted to feel more connected to them. What got in the way was that I was really shy and self-conscious. Lately, I’v been able to slip it into my life as a very casual habit. I’ve been using an app, Duolingo, that makes the process more of a game that I feel is easy and I can see progress in. This really helps because I do not call myself a natural language learner. Tiptoeing into the world of Portuguese in this way can help me gradually increase my confidence in learning the language.
Another skill/hobby I decided to keep moving forward with in this month was improv, but this time it’s musical improv. Musical improv has been a greater challenge than regular improv because music has structure and requires discipline. It first starts off similar to improv where you “yes and” the sounds, emotions and thoughts of yourself and others but then the group mind goes to another level. A person in musical improv needs to remember the melody and lyrics to repeat them later while creating them in the correct time signature and key with the piano and other actors, while also being aware of the number of bars, verses, and overall structure of the song that’s being created in the moment. Not to mention trying to rhyme, have a tagline, and embody a character. At least this is the approach that this class is demonstrating.
Musical improv is a way for me to connect my love of singing, improv, poetry, camp games, writing, and theater all in one place. Mostly it’s a way for me to overcome my fear of singing publicly and to really share my love exploring sound and story with others. Having a group of playful, nonjudgmental peers is a great opportunity to communally do stuff that we’ve always dreamed of doing, like having a rap battle, a drum circle, or a spiritual chant in the dark.
I have been doing a lot of cooking at work, specifically vegan cooking, and it has inspired me to cook outside of work, despite at times a half hour recipe takes me two hours to do. I learned to cook kale chips, sugar cinnamon popcorn, tuna noodle casserole, chili topped baked potato, orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce, bean soup with collard greens, and lentil stew.
Going along with the food adventures, I got really into tea and started drinking earl grey, chestnut, chai, and hojicha tea more frequently. I was going tea shopping a lot, craving the warm, milky, herbal goodness and gravitated to the many San Francisco’s tea shops including Lovejoy’s, David’s Tea, and Asha Tea.
Well I guess I’m a foodie because I’m about to write another brief paragraph about my food adventures. Along with tea, I was constantly craving Papalote veggie burritos and their salsas. I made a pact with myself to eat every type of salsa and veggie burrito they have there within the year. I think I’m off to a good start so far because I’ve eaten four types of burritos and three types of salsas, leaving only one type of veggie burrito and and one type of salsa left. Next will be the seafood burritos!
TV SHOWS, MOVIES, BOOKS
I watched some awesome shows in January including Born This Way, Transgeneration, and Avatar the Last Airbender. All these shows tapped into different parts of my life and my interests. Watching a show of the interpersonal struggles of the demographics I work with was so enriching! It opened up my mind to the truths that I share with them. I was also inspired by the elegance, magic, empowerment, freedom, strength, and spirit of the eastern practices and martial arts I saw in Avatar. It made me want to go back to learning Qigong, Tai Chi, dance, and hula hooping. It made me also want to do some sport where the feeling of soaring or flying is present like skiing, biking, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, or even parkour. I miss those characters!
A book I read this month was The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was a beautiful book, very sad, and very poetic. I enjoyed the rich short chapters, how the characters’ lives crossed paths, how the writer jumps forward and backward in time until the past meets the future. The book made me want to get in touch with nature, the quiet, and my senses.
PEOPLE IN MY LIFE
Speaking of characters, I also connected with many friends who gave me updates on their lives. I met friends out of the usual context whether it’s work or class and had a good sit down with them where we could really share how our lives are progressing and changing. Some of these people I hadn’t talked to for months or even a year, so it was really fascinating to see what they were up to. I emailed several friends a quote a tree, something I’ve never done, and that was a great way to stay in touch or at least reach out to them with some inspiring, uplifting words. January seemed to be the month of realizing that time is passing, which sparked the urgency to reconnect to those who I value in my life and have impacted who I am.
SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES
This month I enjoyed some places and activities that San Francisco has to offer including the LGBT museum, the Exploratorium, Pier 39, Chinatown, Bernal Heights, Clarion Music Center, FLAX art store, and a Werewolf meetup. It’s nice to really get out and enjoy where I live and take advantage of the unique opportunities that San Francisco has to offer, and to interact with people in my community who share the same quirky interests, like accusing people you’ve just met for being wolves and killing people.
Work has been great. I lately have been bonding well with my clients over cooking class, drama class, movies, shows, and San Francisco adventures. They have been apparently getting to know me well too because when we went into a store and they saw me get excited by a shelf of journals, they said, “It’s your paradise!” I had no idea that my love for writing was something that apparent!
In January I met some clients and staff I never met before. I felt like I was in a parallel world from the regular work world I’m usually in. It reinvigorated the fresh excitement and spirit I had when I first started this job over a year ago. The clients I met made such a great impression on me. I missed them when the work day ended. They were so kind, thoughtful, nurturing, funny, compassionate, sensitive, intelligent, philosophical, spiritual, and mindful. They talked about their weaknesses and strengths and how they are trying to be better with their people skills. One guy talked about how he wanted to make sure to come out of his”egg” where his ego is, saying that the “egg” is short for “ego”. It was his first day at the volunteer site and I could tell he was doing his best to build his confidence. One client talked about how much she was really excited about her dream to volunteer at children’s hospital and told me all the details of her process to be able to do that. It was a great day of learning for me and for them as they volunteered at the food bank.
I got interested in reconnecting with Occupational Therapy and started reading OT magazines and talking to my OT peers. The idea of going back in the field as a pediatric OTA got me excited to think of books or volunteer sites that could prepare me for the path. I daydreamed about a job position a friend told me about that was an hour away from where I lived but thought twice about it, thinking it would sabotage my success since I didn’t feel I was prepared enough in my skills to have something to offer. Also I’m not exactly in a rush to leave my current job. As you can see I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
I started to get back into running but I wasn’t too consistent with it. But I have been pretty consistent with the Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Getting muscles has been something I felt would be more beneficial to my long term health than cardio but haven’t really focused on until now. My strength has for the longest time been my greatest weakness and now I’m on the road to having better posture, stability, balance, support, lower risk of injury, and higher capability to pull and lift myself.
Something that had been on my to do list for a year was to go to the dentist, which I was finally able to do in January. Before then I hadn’t gone to the dentist in maybe two years, which is way too long. I was nervous and overwhelmed with choosing a dentist because I didn’t want to be stuck with a dentist that could cause me undue damage to my mouth or bank account. Plus after working at a corrupt pain clinic that had top reviews on Yelp, it made me less trusting of Yelp as a source of unbiased truth. However I finally went for one that was really close to my house and even later got my retainer cleaned. Yes I have a retainer, an homage of my fourth grade self still lives on.
I have been writing everything I do every day, which has been very helpful for writing this blog and reflecting on a month that happened a while ago. Now, these monthly reflections have given that daily dedication some higher purpose! In general it has helped me be more aware of my habits and how I spend my time.
When I was in high school and college I would write in a journal almost everyday about my feelings, ideas, and relationships. Now I mostly use journals to brainstorm, make lists, and sometimes briefly mention something memorable once in a while. This blog post feels like a mega journal entry making up for all the past journal entries I didn’t write throughout the month and puts it all in one place.
In all, I would have to summarize January as a month full of ambitious, creative energy where I was able to embark on fulfilling my long term dreams.