Monday, June 22, 2009

Happiness in a pair of shoes!?

What shoes are you wearing when you look at yourself and think, "I'm happy"? Mine are a pair of beautiful, black pumps with hot pink soles with heels so high they make my legs look like I'm 8 feet tall. Well, I don't own a pair of shoes like that. I own black pumps, but just slightly more ordinary ones. Sometimes I want the clothes and the shoes of an executive that looks so smart that walk into a fantastic house each night for dinner in an awesome kitchen. Other days I want to be in a pair of comfortable flats eating a bowl of cereal while looking through a magazine. 

Which makes me happy? Hubby said I'm so conflicted between the two worlds because he said I can be happy in both. I never really thought of that before. Most people aren't happy because they tell themselves they aren't happy. Do we really truly have that much power over ourselves. Well, I do not have a medical degree, but I believe we do have that power.  Too bad it took someone else to point it out to me. 

I am surrounded by young, driven, fun people, yet how many of us are truly happy? I think we are to some degree, but why stop there? We could all be so much happier if instead of posting facebook messages and tweets about how terrible our lives are, we all started tweeting about all the good things in life? 

Today I had the opportunity to play a violin for a while. I took lessons for year as a kid, the suzuki style where you learn by ear instead of reading music. I played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! I still remember it after all these years. And I played it in like 6 different ways - little staccato notes and longer notes. It was fun! Even more, I like how the wikipedia page describes the Suzuki method "an educational philosophy which strives to create "high ability" and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment". That's so funny to me now! For 5 minutes, I was 6 again! 

Maybe tomorrow I'll shoot for 7. I have lots of happy memories of that age! 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Medical Study Volunteer

I was poking around CraigsList a few weeks ago looking for some volunteer opportunities. I found a post for a medial study being conducted by Stanford for hand eczema. I was immediately intrigued. I've been suffering from hand eczema for about 4 years now. It started the week hubby and I got engaged! I've seen three different dermatologists and even though the last one I saw by far was the best, they don't have a cure and it's quite frustrating to put topical steroids on your hands. It's so painful and most of the time I am unable to wear my beautiful wedding ring. 

Yesterday I was able to speak with the person in charge of the study. After describing my particular eczema experience, what it looks like, where exactly it's located etc, she told me I do qualify for the study! She emailed me the informed consent papers to read through and go back to her if I have any questions. It was 21 pages long. Here are some interesting things to note:
  • looking for 600 participants
  • with chronic hand eczema that does not respond to topical creams
  • 6 month long study - after reading the informed consent it's actually 1 year, 9 months
  • must be on two forms of birth control
  • I can stop the study at any time for any reason
It's interesting because I never really thought about wanting to have children in the next two years until I'm told I can't get pregnant while being in this study. It totally makes sense because they are unaware of possible birth defects while on this drug. I went off birth control about 15 months ago. Not to get pregnant, but because I didn't want to be on any medicine. I am taking nothing right now except the occasional ibuprofen for headaches or body aches. It's been nice to not be altered. 

It would totally suck to know for sure I can't get pregnant for the next two years (if I do the full study) and I only have a 50/50 chance I'll get the real drug instead of the placebo! Hubby and I spoke last night and he thinks I should do it. He said if it helps my hands to feel better, it's worth it. I'm just not sure yet. It seems like a really big deal. I don't trust the FDA anyway, so it doesn't matter to me that it's not FDA approved yet. What does matter to me is I might suffer from bone density loss. I know your body can rebuild that and I'm young enough to have time to reverse that. 

The first meeting, where they actually determine if I'm perfect for the study, is an entire day of tests. They take a blood sample, tons of x-rays, photos of my hands, samples of the eczema to determine I don't have anything else on my skin and an allergy patch test. I think all of those would be fantastic to have done. I did an allergy patch test when I was a kid and I've only had x-rays at the dentist and once at the chiropractor years ago. I guess I can always start with that and see if I'm even right for the study and go from there. I'd hate to waste the doctors time though, but they are sure to have a lot of people eventually drop out. I'd have monthly meetings and a few benchmark visits are all day. 

I have two other people to get medical opinions from on this study: my mother-in-law and my boss' wife. It's a little nerve-wracking, but if I get the real drug and it really works, my life will be changed and that would be wonderful. The kinds of things that bother me now are: getting manicures, going into the ocean, preparing foods, handling a lot of paperwork etc. All of those irritate my hands or dry them out. I have to wear latex gloves when I prepare foods, especially anything raw. I cut a tomato earlier this week without gloves and it burnt the hell out of my finger. I just want to be normal again! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ode to Michael Kors

Michael Kors has got to be my favorite American designer. I love his classic clothes and his amazing ability to dress a woman. Now, most of his clothing I unfortunately has no place in my wardrobe. Hubby and I do not have any fancy parties to attend or any formal events. We have the occasional wedding, but I would stick out like a sore thumb if I came in wearing any expensive dress. In a way, that sucks! I want to wear beautiful pieces! 

Today I was talking to a friend about this beautiful MK black dress I thought was SO BEAUTIFUL! As I recall, it was also so expensive!!! My memory thought it was about $5k, which after looking at the website and not seeing anything over about $3,500 makes me question the price. But it's no longer there, so we're going to say it was $5k. That's about a year of my clothing allowance! I'm not sure exactly what I spend on clothes, but I know it's less than rent & food & other major necessities, so I feel it's in proportion. 

But say my clothing allowance was abut $5k for the year. And let's say I spend all $5K of that on this one MK dress! That kind of made me throw up in my mouth right now, but let's just say I did it anyway. First of all, hubby would be absolutely furious with me. But hey, I work too! I should be able to spend my money how I want. I guess that's not a good argument considering we have everything joint. Oh well. Turns out also have arguments in this made up world! 

But what if I wore the same freaking MK dress every single day! Let's say I had enough shoes to wear it every day with a different pair of shoes and different jewelry every day! When would I get sick of the dress? Day 3? Day 20? Day 150? Who knows, but it's fun to think about. 

Say, you keep it for special occasions. How many events would you wear it to before you got sick of it? How many events would you not be able to wear it to because the same people would only see you in that fantastically, beautiful, but the same dress? I love clothes, but I know myself and I get SICK of the same stuff over and over again. I've learned to buy quality clothes, but I'm also learning I don't like to hold onto pieces year after year after year. My recent closet purge puts that to a fact. 

I like change in my wardrobe. I like diversity! I don't care to spend a bunch of money on clothes and I have a tiny closet, so I'm motivated to keep things in a fairly small place. I have about a 3 foot rack space, with shoes beneath and 3 drawers in a dresser for tops, jeans and workout clothes (top to bottom respectively).

I have a very organized closet. I also organize hubby's side according to my system (lights to darks in each category: dresses, skirts, tops: sleeveless, short sleeve, 3/4 length sleeve and long sleeved and then pants: by length and color). It works quite well. I highly recommend this system rather than random! 

Anyway, how long could you go wearing the same thing day after day after day? 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I need a vacation, but a good laugh will do for now!

The last few weeks at work have been really difficult. And on top of it, so serious. I've had to remind myself to breathe. We use to have so much fun at the office. What changed? I feel so much pressure and some days I don't know if I'm coming or going. Most nights I come home, hopefully run or go to yoga and after dinner veg out. Nothings so wrong with that, but I need a vacation! 

Hubby and I keep talking about taking some time off, but I honestly don't see that happening any time soon. I fear we are becoming my parents in that sense where they talk about doing something forever and then never do it. So far this weekend, I've mentally traveled to San Diego, Seattle, Madrid and Cabo. 

My annual review was last week. It was good. Not great, but not bad. I'm spread pretty thin right now and it's making it difficult to do much of anything very well. A meeting the following day was about roles & responsibilities for some PR efforts and Boss #1 (I say that because I have 2) asked me to speak up if something interests me. They asked me to be the "Queen" or PM for a project. I said I'd love to, but let's look at my other responsibilities and be honest about how this can work. We agreed I have too much going on and that we set a goad in about 1 - 2 weeks to have a new person take over a lot for me so I can focus on this. 

I think that's great. Exactly what I wanted and was promised at my review last year. No wonder I need a vacation. Boss #1's daughter came in for a few hours Thursday afternoon and I watched her, while doing my work while he was in meetings. She's a fantastic 5 year old and we have a good time together. She asked me why I have two desks and two computers! I said, that's what I need to do my 6 jobs! She laughed. I didn't. 

I do believe if we get a new body in the office, someone that is fun and creative, it will help bring some life and fun back to the office. We desperately want it. I'd like to be able to take on new and full challenges to see if I can really bring it and be given a fair shot at doing well. The next few months will be really critical to my successes and future at my current place and my next place. 

So I decided it's about time I have some fun outside work! I had two friends (also coworkers) over for drinks after work Friday. We also made some burgers and corn and threw them on the grill while we sat outside and enjoyed the back yard area. Hubby's been working so hard back there. It's nice to have some oasis like that to enjoy your hard work. We were able to vent and talk about work, laugh and just have a really good time. A lot of the time, Hubby doesn't necessarily understand what's going on at my office. We work at two extremely different places and the office politics and dynamics are completely different. It's nice for me to have him experience stories from other people I work with, rather than just myself. He said, I can see why things are difficult for you and are struggling. It's a relief to have some understanding. 

Then last night we went to see The Hangover. It was so freaking funny! I love Las Vegas and the characters in this movie just made me forget about everything else except their story. I loved it. Then I came home and why hubby worked on something in the office / guest room, I decided to watch The Jane Austin Book club. I've never read Austin before, but I did see the movie Becoming Jane with Ann Hathaway and James McAvoy and I totally loved that movie. I loved this one as well. It makes me want to explore more books. I've been in a rut lately with looking at travel online and watching TV. I go in cycles. 

Our 3rd wedding anniversary is coming up. It's the same time as 4th of July, so I thought we'd go somewhere for that, but the park, Lassen Volcanic Park is sold out of camping spots. We haven't really figured out what else to do yet. It's coming up soon. I think I'll sit back and not worry about it for the moment. Instead I'll enjoy this overcast, chilly Sunday morning with my cup of coffee and wait for hubby to wake up and hit the Farmers Market! Happy Sunday!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Suburbs to San Francisco adventure

Earlier this week we were invited out Saturday night for a friends birthday. We were to hit some bars in San Francisco. Hubby and I were of course all about it. I invited one of my girlfriends to join us and we decided to do a shopping adventure that afternoon before going to the bars! I was so excited! The shopping around here consists of malls and normal stores, but the shopping in San Francisco consists of all these super cute boutique stores! I've been dying to get on the scene for a while now.

I decided to take Caltrain up to the city to meet my girlfriend and then hubby would drive up with the car later that night. Well, yesterday morning I got a bit scared because I've only ridden the train twice before and always with hubby. Plus, I had to transfer at Milbrae to get on Bart so I went to the right part of the city: The Mission. Hubby did this transfer before from the airport when I couldn't break away from work to get him after a backpacking trip. He generally has a bad sense of direction, so I knew I would probably rock the transfer.

Well, I successfully got on the Caltrain at 12:23, found a seat and pulled out my new Livescribe pen & notebook. I had some thoughts from my venture I wanted to write down. The first few minutes of the ride my arm was shaking a bit. I told myself to calm down. Ah, I didn't look to see what the stop was before mine. It was difficult to hear the announcer. Deep breaths girl. You'll be fine. The other two times I took Caltrain was to go to the Giants vs. Cardinals baseball games and for that, you take the train all the way to the end.

The transfer to Bart went fine. Me and 15 or so other people stood around like, HUH? What do we do? The tracks were not labeled well, the track I was suppose to be on had a light rail train on it that said out of order...what now? Well, of course a woman was working there and instructed us to stay put. We were in the right place and she was getting information for us. Turns out they were having problems at the transfer point and they were going to use that train. We could board it in a few minutes and it would take off in about 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes! That's a long time. Well, I had never been on Bart before either, so I'm all full of adventures today. I texted my girlfriend and told her what's up. Of course she said no biggie. I thought to myself, I should have taken the earlier train. D'oh! How will we have enough time to shop and get our nails done!?

When I got off at 16th and Market in San Francisco I was in the heart of The Mission! It was the first time I walked around San Francisco and felt like I was in a foreign city. The rest of the city is pretty regular and maybe bland, but The Mission has a lot of character! I felt like I traveled way farther than probably 40 miles from my house! I found my girlfriends place quite easily and we headed out to Noe Valley for some shopping! I was so excited - I need some new clothes that fit.


We stumbled upon this beautiful jewelry store called Qoio. She had the most beautiful jewelry I'd ever seen. The owner makes all the items herself and her inspiration is her home country of Guatemala. She was explaining to us that all the different villages have unique colors and Guatemala is know as the colors of spring. I thought it was beautiful and quite reasonably priced considering the details and hard work she obviously put into each unique piece. If I ever need, and I hope I do, a beautifully piece of art to wear, I will visit Qoio again and do some serious shopping.

So at the end of the day I had a manicure & pedicure and bought a beautiful, black, floppy sun hat and a new bronze colored woven clutch. I didn't find any clothes. I realized I'm a very traditional, preppy Banana Republic / J.Crew style after all. Maybe I can go back to Qoio and get something interesting to mix it up! Nothings wrong with that.

So my adventure worked out well yesterday after all. I mean, I knew it would, but it was good to be out of my element and taking public transit alone. I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I remember back in High School and College, I use to travel all over the world and I was fearless. So fearless in fact, it scared my parents a bit. Ya know, this was before the internet was big and I went on all these trips knowing only a few things: where I'm staying when I get there and what the weathers like (based on average temperatures from the encyclopedia and not real time weather). I didn't research transportation or restaurants or anything. I just went and figured it out there. So, when did we become fearful? Well, hopefully I'm on my way to discovery and breaking down the fear inside me and bringing out the adventure in me again! I can't wait to discover what's next.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Monkey King Chief

This week's Yoga class with Kenny Graham was great! I'm always super-sore for 2 days post class - especially in my hammies. He always starts class with these amazing, heartfelt stories. I guess that's all part of the Anusara style of yoga - I like it.  Towards the end of class we were trying Hanumansana. It's translated as Monkey King Chief or as most people know it: the full splits! It's said a little differently on his website, but from his words in class: He was sitting on the beach in New Jersey praying he wouldn't have to work again. He saw a weather beaten flag with the image of Hanumasana on it and somehow it brought him to love practice and teaching of yoga. He knew instantly the journey would be long and hard, but not out of the rhelm of possibilities. 

I usually don't remember much after class, but I connected instantly to not wanting to work. I have a good job, but just like any other job it's exhausting and frustrating. Oh how I would love to be my own boss and do what I want. I believe that my husband makes enough money that I could just quit my job tomorrow and we would be okay. Not great, but we would survive. It's freeing to know that, but I also know that without my income the possibility of kick ass vacations, whenever we get around to it, would  not be possible. Also, my shopping adventures would be cut instantly. I'm not a huge spender, but I don't mind spending money on things that matter and of good quality that will last forever. 

Working is also a pride thing. Besides, what would I do all day? After our 2 mile run Wednesday after work, I was washing my hair in the shower and had the most brilliant idea! I can do my own thing and I know just what I want to do. I'm not going into detail now, because I'm still formulating my ideas and developing a plan, but I'd hope that in 6 months or so it would have enough legs that I can fully jump into my own project. Just having that possibility out there, a goal to work towards, is liberating. I hope to have a meeting within a week with one of my very well connected friends to see what he thinks of the whole thing. 

But for now, I'm drinking coffee with my hubby, planning out how to spend the next 2 hours before I get on Caltrain to meet a girlfriend in San Francisco for a shopping adventure at all the cute boutiques and then a night out with friends for a birthday! What a fun Saturday planned out. I hope the weather cooperates.