Never Say Never

You know when you say you’re never going to eat monkey brains? Or you would never jump out of a plane for “pure pleasure”? Or that you would never live in New York City?

 

So that one might just be me.

 

The thrilling skyline of vibrant skyscrapers. The epicenter of tourism. The hub of finance, media, fashion and food. Home to 2 to 8 million rats (Actually, I need no further reminder as to why I did not want to live here).

 

Yet here I am, a now two-week resident of NYC.

 

Granted, it was more than a decade ago when I first said I had no interest in living in the Big Apple. Since then, I’ve visited countless times, navigated the metro system with ease and recognized most neighborhoods by name (I don’t think I’ll ever understand TriBeCa). Even so, there was a reluctance to fully embrace the highly revered metropolis. I loved the grittiness of Philadelphia, the natural open arms of San Francisco, and the hard earned knocks of Boston. New York? Too glamorous for me.

 

When I realized I needed a place to lay my head at night for more than just a week’s stretch, I had a couple of hospitable options. In the end, I was given the opportunity to live in an amazing apartment with a reduced rent, and friends who would continue to look out for the rest of my belongings upstate.

 

God works in beautiful, but humbling ways. Unsettling, too. I’m still adjusting to being a quasi-Manhattanite, no matter how short or long my time here may be. I guess it’s time to put on my high heels and get to work.

 

(Who am I kidding. I’m still wearing flat shoes).

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Two Decades

I’m frantically writing a blog post as I reflect on the last few days of wedding preparation.

 

Don’t be alarmed, there’s no ring on my finger.

 

It’s that of a friend whom I have known for more than 20 years. A friend who has been by my side through thick and thin (she being the thin and I was the former). A friend at whom I shook my head for years because there were times where she was just beyond me. And then a friend who received the same head-shaking in recent years because of my delight at who she’s become.

~1995

[around 1994]

Now, after two decades, I get to see her walk down the aisle and marry a man who cherishes her deeply. We’ve seen our share of hurt, of mistreatment, betrayal and even abuse. Now her story will be marked by a new beginning – where another friend will be by her side for hopefully more than twenty and beyond years.

[before 2002]

[before 2002]

 

 

Don’t worry, Yong Hee. Janet and I will always be around.

Earthquakes

Remember how I realized that I’ve explored two cities this summer whose goal is to be bizarre?

 

Another fun fact: I’ve also ventured through two cities whose identities have been heavily molded by an earthquake’s devastation.

 

I have never experienced an earthquake (knock on wood – preferably a sturdy doorframe). This is rather surprising, seeing that I called California home for years, visited the state frequently and am now considering it as a future home. However, even without the personal experience, I feel aghast at seeing what such a natural disaster can undo.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

 

It is even more gasp-inducing to see what humanity can re-do afterward.

 

In Lisbon, my sister and I stumbled upon the work of a pair of designers who have captured the personality of Portugal in childlike cartoons.

lisboa_02

(courtesy of Soma Ideas)

A poem accompanies each city or national icon. For Portugal’s capital, one line immediately held my attention.

(courtesy of Yelp.com) Urbanity risen from an earthquake.

(courtesy of Yelp.com)

Urbanity risen from an earthquake. 

 

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi (photo courtesy of about.com)

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi             (courtesy of about.com)

 

These churches are also the progeny of a post-earthquake era. Both existed before 1906. Both fell in that year. Now both have been born again.

 

“Born again” has a spiritual association, and I profess to fall into that Christian category. Joining my spiritual life is now my professional life. Please don’t misinterpret this: my decision to leave a career does not compare to the pain and destruction experienced in an earthquake. I am, though, starting anew. What existed before is no longer in front of my eyes, and I have to envision, reimagine what will stand there in the years to come.

That’s why the tales of these shifting tectonic plates has so grabbed me. Look at the beauty around you. Humanity is a people of resilience. Of strength. Of determination. In a time of desolation, the answer is not, “Let me leave.”

 

Instead, it has been, “Let me live.”

IMG_9604

 

 

As I survey what is no longer there in my everyday, I pray for an existence greater than what was before.

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Calling: Let Your Life Speak

Here’s the promised post. However, I won’t do the book justice so please just read it..

 

As I’ve been traveling, I’ve been hoping that suddenly, epiphany will hit. A voice will pierce through the separating clouds. An owl will carry a message from who-knows-where (yes, I love Harry Potter). That’s the hope. Is it reality? Not… yet. Perhaps, not at all.

 

Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God. 

 

These are the words of Parker J. Palmer, the author of “Let Your Life Speak.”  It’s quite the contrary view of what a ‘calling’ truly is. Instead of waiting for the outside to resonate within, why am I not being called by my own heart? My own gifts? My own talents?

 

Interestingly enough, the primary reason I began to work in broadcast journalism in 2006 was that I felt that this profession suited me. My talents and abilities fit into the job search puzzle. I was never a news junkie, never dreamed of seeing myself behind the anchor desk as a young girl. Since I began this career though, I’ve developed an earnest desire to understand the business and give it my all. Does that signify passion? Or calling?

 

What a tricky concept.

 

Palmer urges the reader to listen. Not to others, not to self-help books, not even for a celestial voice to boom down from the heavens. Instead he asks you to see where your dreams head. To linger among what your heart longs for. To note the itchiness in your fingers when you’re given a task that captivates you.

 

So a few things that have come to my heart in the past few weeks — and these may not be the final landing place:

– I have a heart. An organ that hurts, empathizes, and has compassion for those who are in need. Who exactly might I serve? That’s yet to come.

– I love to listen. I love to share, but more importantly, I desire to draw someone out of their shell, discover the person beyond the name tag.

– There’s a standard I want for myself. That’s about all I’ve got there; within that lies an element of pride. I’ll be the first to admit that despite the confidence I show, there’s a very insecure woman underneath, daunted by the challenges that lie ahead. Yet I can’t deny there’s an innate reason as to why I am resistant to taking just any job.

 

There’s more peeling to do.

 

 

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.

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#whatinnaeworld?! San Diego Edition

Unfortunately, these posts are coming a bit later in my travels, but you want to hear the words in my head, don’t you? Rather than just the sights I see? DON’T YOU?

 

 

Fine. Just be sure to follow me on Instagram (icon to the left!)

 

Anyway, back to the series.

I have never seen this before. And I am elated.

pill: 50 cents. a night without digestive pain: priceless.

Pill: 50 cents. A night without digestive pain: priceless.

 

Thank you, Lighthouse Ice Cream for blowing my mind (and not my stomach).