Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year - A New Project - A New Me

As many of you noticed, I took a hiatus from blogging for about half a year.  2011 was a year where I experienced internal conflict about many things.  I didn’t have any tragedy happen, in fact I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.  But there were a lot of things in my life I wasn’t happy or content with.  Over the years, I’d gone into this auto-pilot mode of jumping from obsession to obsession outside of work and then having a career meltdown every 3-4 years (where I would panic, stress out, and frantically search for other careers – resulting in practicality winning out, stomping the panic out, and carrying on.)

I had another meltdown this year that resulted in a month of no sleep (believe when I say I love to sleep,) during which Steve Jobs passed away.  I watched the commencement speech for Stamford in 2005 and the last few minutes of the speech really got me thinking.  Over the years, I’ve read a lot of self help books (what can I say?  I like to think I’m working on improving myself.)  I am a total nerd, self-professed neurotic (but a highly functioning one), and a bookworm.  The two things people notice when they come to my home is my taste in furniture and the number of books I have.  It took me forever, but I finally broke down and bought a Kindle - only because it got ridiculous when packing to travel (12 hardback books takes up about half the space in a carry-on suitcase,) so I bought a Kindle for travel.  At home, I still like my physical books thank you very much – I have a theory about the difference between physical and digital books, and because I disagree at times with how the publishing industry is trying to sell books digitally.  I digress – back to the meltdown at hand.  Probably because I hadn’t slept in 3 weeks and was desperate to sleep regularly again, I really took Steve Job’s advice to heart.  He felt that the most important thing was to pursue and work on things he felt passionate about – and he felt that everyone should accept no less in order to be true to ones’ self.  The last two years, I had started reading all the books I could get my hands on about careers and finding one’s passion.  Jobs was adamant about not listening to naysayers or even what conventional wisdom has ingrained into us when it comes to finding the things we are passionate about.  I realized at that point, that my problem in finding the things I’m passionate about was coming from myself.  I had tried to look for something I was passionate about with a leash on myself.  I had unconsciously limited myself with, How am I going to make a living with what I love when it seems like it’s just a hobby? mindset.

For the first time, I could finally throw all of that out the window.   And I threw out my leash with a vengeance.  We all have to make a living.  Not all of us have the propensity to live a starving artist’s life, others have duties and responsibilities.  But there was no reason why I couldn’t use time outside of my day job to start exploring.  And start I did!  My day job is very logical and rational – which one side of me is, but the creative side of me has been starved for too long.  It’s why I sometimes feel like I have a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde personality.  The logical and creative side of me have been split out when they really should be combined – neglecting one side has also left me feeling imbalanced.

So this year, I’m making a serious commitment to tackle the things about myself I’m not happy with.  These things aren’t going to fix themselves.  Getting started is hard enough, even harder is changing habits.

 Resolutions for the Year 2012

1.)  Clean House and Storage
I really let myself go here when I was in auto pilot mode.  It doesn’t help that I’m a total pack-rat by nature.  While I’ll never be the minimalist type, I can vastly improve on getting rid of the excess of things I have in the condo I live in – and the storage unit (yes it’s that out of hand.)

 2.)  Play and Discover Passions with Abandon – Be True to Thyself

I have a really open type of personality where I see possibility in almost everything.  If you ask someone who knows me, they’re most certainly liable to say “Oh, Karen loves Everything.”  While this isn’t technically true, I can definitely see how it would seem so.  My answer is to try things out without giving thought to whether it’s practical or not – once I try things out, I’ll know whether I like it or not.  It may not be the most efficient way to figure out what I really enjoy, but it’s a sure way.  I’m going to figure out my passions this year – even if I hurt for it (I already have bruises from fencing, more on that later.)

3.)  Write, Write, Write

The thought of writing was born out of my love of reading, books, and stories.  I love a good story in any form – books, movies, song lyrics – you name it.  I thought about writing for a year and a half before I did anything about it (sad, but true – I am THAT good at procrastinating.)  Because I have such an open personality, I tend to start a lot of things – but not finish them.  It’s one thing that really bothers me about myself.  I reasoned that I needed a healthy dose of discipline, so I signed up for writing classes which meant I would have deadlines to turn in assignments – and feedback.  I have taken 4 writing classes so far in different genres, and have really enjoyed them (well, some more than others because I’m terrible at some genres.)  I still procrastinate.  I really need to get into the habit of writing at least 5 days a week plus work towards completing two writing projects I have decided on.  A novel and a collection of humor essays.   

4.)  Try my hand at Writing Songs – Incorporate Music back into my Life

Many people don’t know this about me, but I’m a serial musician.  I literally collect and dabble in playing instruments.  When I was young, I took years of classical piano and violin lessons.  I’ve recently pulled many of my instruments out of storage and started playing again – and bought new instruments.  Like the Ukulele, a bass guitar, and a five string electric violin – a weird combo I know.  A more recent discovery about myself is that I completed the melody / accompaniment of two songs.  I never thought of myself as someone who was creative enough to write songs – but I had such a good time completing the two melodies for the songs that I really want to give song writing a try.  Whether or not the songs are good is an entirely different story, but I’m having fun.    

5.)  Start a V-Log

I’ve been thinking about starting a V-Log and would like to start one this year.  I’m in the process of swapping my camera for one that can also do video and took a 1 day digital film making course to learn basics – it was fun.  I have no designs or inkling to become a director, maybe only for my own V-log ^_^

6.)  Create and Lead a Japan Tour with a Fun Group of People

I’ve always loved travel.  It’s one of the few passions I have that hasn’t changed since I was young.  I go somewhere far every year – I go a little nuts if I don’t.  I think I got the bug from my mom, who – while being a very traditional and loving mom – is one of the most adventurous people I know.  While I have no plans of becoming a full time tour guide, I love sharing things I’m passionate about with another passion of mine - people.  I lived for almost two years in Tokyo and traveled all around Japan.  I think Japan is a fascinating country – one that can be a little daunting for westerners to visit because of the language and cultural barrier.  I would really love to put together an introductory tour of Tokyo and the surrounding area for those who want to travel somewhere new, do something different, and be able to do it with a fun group where one doesn’t need to worry about all the details on their own.  Like traveling with a group of friends and looking after each other.    

7.)  Lose those last few pounds.          

I know this is clich√©, but you know how they say those last few pounds are the hardest to lose… They’re not getting lost on their own, so I’m putting it down on my list.  I’ve already consulted my personal diet guru (my brother - because he's tried just about every diet under the sun,) and I think his advice is sound.  His take is that there are no short cuts and the hardest thing is not losing the pounds, but rather keeping them off – which means if you’re on a diet you can’t sustain long term, don’t bother.  I’ve started calorie counting – and dieting is really hard for someone who loves food :(  The hardest thing for me is portion control.  More on this later.

8.)  Family & Friends (Old and New)
I think quality of life boils down to striving for a healthy life.  This includes maintaining healthy relationships, because after all, the people in our lives are who enriches our lives by providing color and meaning.  I’d like to make it a goal to spend quality time with people in my life and to make new friends, who I can learn from and broaden my horizons.  

In Conclusion, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following my blog.  I received some really nice emails about missing my blog during my break.  Thank you for your patience with me.  I wanted to say that you will be seeing posts from me – not only about design, but also about other things.  I thought about maintaining different blogs, but it would be too much for me (already have a problem with focus hahaha.)  So I hope you will forgive me for expanding the theme of this blog from design to something more encompassing.  The design element will stay, but you may see book reviews, gift ideas, the latest activity I’m trying out, and etc.

Most of all, I’d love to hear from all of you.  What are you up to?  What are your thoughts?  Your resolutions?  Anything!

Happy New Year Everyone!


Karena said...

Karen I am so excited and proud of you...taking stock is so difficult, and then after that taking action!

I have had two major surgeries in the past 2 months! My mantra is currently "Every Day in Every Way I am getting better and Better!"

Giving back and paying it forward, also very important to me!

Happy New Years to you and yours! I wish you all the Best in 2012!

Please come and enter my Giveaway from Serena & Lily.


Art by Karena

Sheri said...

I am so happy you are back! Your blog was one of the first ones I used to read regularly. I just loved it!

You are very inspiring, we are very similar. I love to start multiple things at once and not finish anything. Or fly through them so I can try something else. It's scary and seems difficult to follow a passion (ie the money thing etc.). I can't wait to read more on your journey!!

Alkemie said...

Hi Karena -

Giving back and Paying it forward is a great mantra!! All the little things count too.

Positive thinking goes a long way - one day at a time is a great way to put things into perspective. I hope you are feeling better one day at a time :)


Alkemie said...

Hi Sheri,

Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I really appreciate them!


Jan said...

Hi Karen
All I can say is WOW - great way to start a new year.
Hope everything works out the way you want.

Home Decorator said...

Nice read for the New Year. I learned a lot from you. Happy New Year!

Alejandra M. Fimbres said...

It's so glad to read from you again. I seriously expect you to write again about design and architecture... but, if not, I really expect to read ANYTHING from you, whether is music, traveling or personal experiences.

Congratulations on your resolutions. I also have some to-do. Good luck and see you around!


Francine Gardner said...

You are very wise, to set time aside, take stock of your life and your aspirations. I wish you all the best for 2012! Francine

Sass Brown said...

Good luck with your continued discovery of self and on enjoying the journey along the way!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Wow Karen! What a leap - great job on making a commitment to a healthier, more creative life. You will get there - we missed you! Welcome back.

Mr. Goodwill Hunting said...

Welcome Back!

Mr. Goodwill Hunting

Alkemie said...

Thanks for all of the encouraging words!

the cheese thief said...

I'm so glad you are blogging again. I have been reading your blog for a while now and had wondered what happened. It's great to take inventory of your life and reflect on everything. Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I totally felt like it was me writing this (although I'm not as articulate as you). Everything you stated about passion/ steve jobs etc resonated with me.

Looking forward to reading more.


Libertarian Advocate said...

Your new philosophy is actually quite an old one most succinctly stated as: Carpe Diem<. Too often its very difficult to cut through the clutter of daily life to see the astonishing simplicity of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen
I am a long time follower of your blog and your New Year post really struck a chord for me....I agree with so much which you said and it has made me consider a whole lot of issues in my life too...when you wrote about quality of life boiling down to a healthy life, a light bulb went off in my head!
You are so right and keeping only the quality people in your life is a really healthy decision to take.
Thank you for sharing..I know it takes courage to bare your feelings on such an open forum. I wish you all the best in 2012 with your healthy pursuits!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Just stumbled on yr blog tonight and wanted to wish you well.

Borozpmhl said...

Hi. Just stumbled on yr blog tonight and wanted to wish you well.

Stokes said...

Nice read for the New Year. I learned a lot from you. Happy New Year!

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All the best guys! Waiting to know more updates from you