For most people, the holiday season is a time to get together with your loved ones, eat great food, and be merry as you create new memories for the future. You may see the family who you haven't seen since last year, and can't wait to smoosh them up in a huge hug, but you might also see that one relative that you dread seeing because they always give you a hard time about your life choices or maybe they have opinions that fundamentally go against what you believe in. Whatever the case may be, it's a once-in-awhile type of get together so you bite your tongue, turn a blind eye, and keep the peace.

Maybe it's time to ruin Thanksgiving.

Your Board of Directors

On a job interview for an internship 10 years ago, I got some of the best advice of my life.

The interviewer, the head of one of the HR departments, had received my resume in advance along with a list of questions to ask me. Before we could even start with the questions, she said, "Before we get started, I have to ask: Bollywood dance team?! Wedding planner?! How cool! Tell me about those things." And I did.

I looked at my shoebox of a room the other day and thought, "Where did all of this stuff come from?" I had sworn that I would only keep some stuff with me here in SF while the majority of my things were in Portland, yet somehow my room was full. Not only was it full, it was full of stuff that I wasn't sure I needed. It was also a reminder that there was ALL THIS STUFF in Portland that I didn't need, considering I had been gone for almost two years and much of my stuff was/is still there.

Spreading the Joy of Snail Mail

Writing is that loyal love that always makes me feel great, yet I neglect. Whenever I make the time for it, I feel empowered and more creative and genuinely happy. It's my way of taking all of the thoughts, ideas, and feelings that I have running amuck in my head and getting them out. Then why don't I do it all the time? I don't have an answer for that, just excuses.

Last year, I decided to no longer neglect my loyal love and to dedicate more time to writing. I set a stretch goal of writing every single day. And not just jotting down an idea on the Notes section of my phone or scribbling in a journal, but writing to someone. Every. Single. Day. Whether it be a 3 page letter, a post card from a new destination or even a quick hello on hotel stationary, I was going to be writing. To connect with people through prose. To spread the joy only snail mail can provide. To improve my penmanship because even I can't read it sometimes. To commit to something.

Reigniting My Love for Reading

Reading 1000 books is on my bucket list, number 16 if we're being specific. As a kid, I used to go to the library almost every week and check out as many books as I could carry. I would read these books late into the night, going into the bathroom for hours under the guise of using the potty when I was secretly just reading. I could finish Book It challenges in a week, easily earning my free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. My parents would punish me by taking away my library privileges when I misbehaved--which might be why I was such a good kid. In grade 2, I won a school wide contest for the most pages read in a month, and my school went from Kindergarten to grade 8. I was a bookworm and I loved it.

I have had more difficult conversations this week than I have had in a long time. Some have turned out better than expected while others really cut me to the core and drained me of my energy. Though some were initiated by my, not all of them were my choice. A few of the difficult conversations from this week were in my professional life, a few were in my personal life, and a few were internal ones that I was having with myself. Here are a few things that I've learned to help me have better difficult conversations:

An Insufficient Thank You

One thing has changed since then though. While I do know several people who have served, I've met them during civilian times, after their service. As with anyone, their history and the path they traveled on before your paths crossed, is something they carry with them, but it can be easy to separate the two because you never witnessed it. Somehow, somewhere, sometime between then and now, I met someone who is currently serving in the military and through him I've learned more about the military, the demands, the details (the ones that can be shared at least) that come with being in the army, which makes Veteran's Day more personal for me this year. Things like overnight shifts, and missing holidays, and classified information (curiosity might truly be the end of me one day), and upcoming deployments. I always knew those things were real, but to actually hear about them one on one...completely different experience.

Travel Goals

When I started the year out, I had set a goal to visit at least one country a month this year. Then I got my special assignment that grounded me, so I set the goal of having year round tan lines--which has kind of happened, but I'm due for some sun, stat! With that said, I started the year strong with visits to Antigua, Senegal, Grenada and the Philippines by the end of March and continued with visits to Colombia, Croatia and Montenegro in the 6 months that followed.

Can People Change?

I read somewhere that every cells are replaced in our body every 7 years, so in a way, every 7 years we're a new person. But are we really? We grow and we change, but how much of that is real change and how much of who we are is the same? Every time I've moved, or started a new job, or met a new person, is a new opportunity to redefine myself, to make that first impression. And while we do change, to an extent, through growth and experience, how much do we really change?

I'm not having the best day. 

Ever have one of those days where you don't feel like yourself. Where little things set you off? Where you don't really feel motivated one way or the other or are just overall blah? Where you're so up in your feelings that you can feel them almost choking you? That's how I'm feeling today. 

Gratefully Grounded

7 months ago, I took a special assignment that took me out of the sky and grounded me for a while. I traded in my wings for a clicker and took a special assignment (a temporary assignment) with the Corporate Learning team at work as an Inflight Instructor. 

Why would I stop living the glamorous, flexible, freeing lifestyle of a flight attendant to work in a normal, routine, job? For lots of little reasons and one big one: routine.

The clocks went back an hour sometime between when I fell asleep around 11pm last night and when my eyes fluttered open around 5:30am, on a Sunday nonetheless. Still feeling like I wanted to rest more, I tossed and turned for half an hour before I decided to get up and do something. This is that something. (I figure instead of tossing and turning for a few hours, it's better to get up, do something while the world is asleep, and take a mid-morning nap if needed.)

Chasing Mountain Tops

Though I still don't consider myself an 'outdoorsy person', my friends, my pictures and my membership to REI would disagree. I'm still not the person who will ask you if you want to go hiking this weekend, but when an invitation is extended, I'll happily accept--with a disclaimer that I'm slow but not a quitter and don't want to hold you back. 

My Bucket List

This whole blog started for a few reasons. As much as I love a good story, my memory isn't what it used to be and this was going to be my way of capturing and documenting the stories and moments of my life. For a while, it always seemed like I was doing or preparing to do something on my bucket list. This list is a living document. I've added new ideas and experiences that have caught my attention.

I have an on and off relationship with yoga. When we're together and see each other often, it gets hot and heavy on my mat, I feel more at ease, I sleep better, I'm happier. When we're apart, I miss it and reminisce about our time together, but also feel overwhelmed at the idea of hanging out again. But there's always a reason that I stopped. Sometimes it's schedule. Sometimes it's laziness. More often than not, it's price. Yoga is expensive. Especially in the Bay area. You know what else is expensive? Spending time being unhappy, unhealthy, and overwhelmed.