Been So Long.

So, it has been a long time.  So much time has passed, it is hard to know where to start.

In my last post I was very sad that my bestie was moving.  Turns out that we both moved out of the Bay Area.  My role at the company I was working at was eliminated. I didn’t want the long hours or the long commute ever again, so I made a quick decision – to move to Utah and figure out my employment situation at a later date.

So that’s what I did.  I bought a house in December, moved to Utah in January.  I am now settled in, just a week or so of unpacking/organizing left.  I am happy to be in Utah for many reasons, most importantly:

  • Closer to family – my niece AbFab and her kids Shanaynah and Mayonaise.
  • Closer to what matters – relationships (not money).. I love that I know my neighbors, that they look after me (and I them).  That good family, kids, and community are important to people here.  This is NOT what I experienced the last 3 years in the Bay Area.
  • Space – I have a house, a real house, a front and back yard, room for visitors, and most importantly, the right space/place for me to nest and feel at home.

What is hard?  Socializing.  The focus here is on family and kids.. there isn’t much for me in the way of Happy Hours or social events.  I have joined a few Meet-Ups but have yet to attend any….    I will when I return.

Return from what you may ask?  VACATION!!  I was invited back for another yachting adventure ( I cannot believe that I didn’t write about my last yacht trip!!).  This year we are headed to St. Lucia.  10 days, on a real yacht, touring the Caribbean, snorkeling, sunning myself on the yacht body deck, new tan lines, good food, great wine..

I will also need to find a job when I return.  I have been focused on obtaining a job at a Bay Area company… I will expand my horizon when I get home.  I am going to look for consulting opportunities as well as starting my own business. I see so much opportunity, I just don’t know how to get started or better said, where to start.

Anyway, I have been spending a lot of time with my nieces, Shanaynay and Mayonaise, who are turning 8 and 10 (remember how important getting older was?!?!)..  Shanaynay asked me to be her chaperone at a school field trip. I am so honored, she is super excited!  She wrote me this note this week…  it says:

Dear Paula:  I love you so much. I love when I come to your house and take a visit. I love when we go ice skating but most important of all is spending time with you.  Love Shanaynay.

Kinz Note-cropped

makes your heart melt doesn’t it?  This is why I moved.

 

Bestie Might Move.

Stating the very obvious, it has been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been busy working my ass off.  I’ve been focused on my career, on making a substantial difference in the first 90 days.

I’m so busy, why write now?  Because my best friend has been interviewing for a phenomenal job opportunity.  It has been a long and arduous process.  But the process is nearing a conclusion and it looks very very promising.  I am so happy for her.  This opportunity is what she has been working so hard for – and to be completely honest, what women, in the software industry, have been wanting for so long – the coveted executive position. The only catch is that she has to move – to Seattle.  Which is a great place to live, we have friends there, and the cost of living is so much more livable than the Bay Area.

My heart hurts.  The thought of losing another bestie to another state makes me really sad. Really sad, crying sad.  I have 4 besties. Girlfriends that I’ve made plans to retire with:

  • Unicorns – who may potentially move to Seattle
  • CLicious – who moved to Utah 2 years ago
  • Jewels – currently dealing with a personal tragedy so great that it will take many years to heal
  • My longest bestie – probably knows the most about me. She is married with her own life on the East Coast

I have other friends that are around that care about me and I them.  With more effort on my part they could become substantial influences and best friends.

Right now what I am feeling is the simple sadness of missing someone.  Unicorns left for Europe right when I separated from my Ex.  I was so happy for her, but the depth of the alone-ness that I felt was devastating.  I do not know where I would be if CLicious and her husband hadn’t adopted me and included me in everything that they did.  They made me family… I will never forget their generosity.

The thought of Unicorns moving away has my stomach in knots, my heart torn apart.  I am very upset about it.  I automatically have gone back to the place I was 8 years ago – during the divorce and her departure.  Later, I remember clearly when CLicious left. I spent 6 months in a daze.  I had to relearn how to live, I had to figure out a new routine.  I can say I am still not completely over her departure. The thought of not having both Unicorns and CLicious makes me very sad.  And alone.

I am 45 years old.  I have no children.  My career is great…. but I am certainly not where I want or thought I would be at 45….  I love the company, the work, the potential.  But I am not a VP. If I work hard I can make the executive ranks in a few years….  so what, so I will be a VP when I reach my 50’s?  Is that really what is important? Is that really what I want?  No.

So what do I want?  I want a partner. Someone who I can be vulnerable with. Someone that I can support and who supports me.  I want a relationship where we have each others backs.  We look after each other, care for one another. What do I need? I need to feel secure and safe.   I am not lonely so it isn’t about just being with someone, with anyone. It’s about sharing life with a super special person that I care about and they care for me.

Yes, I have ATrain, the Ex, who wants to get back together.  I can’t see this being successful.  Not because he isn’t serious about it. He loves me. I love him.  Personality wise we make a great team.  But at the end of the day, I do not think we want the same things. He is happy with how things are. I want so much more.

Anyway, what you just got is my ramblings after drinking a few glasses of red wine….  Not that wine is required.  I’ve been so busy these last few months… busy and exhausted. With what you may ask?

  • I’ve been working my ass off at my new job (90 days in and so far so good).
  • Commuting..  taking public transportation and listening to podcasts to fill the time.
  • Totaled my car.. and just bought a new-to-me car.
  • Pre-registered want-to-be owner of a Tesla Model 3.
  • Trappings of a regular life – work and personal travel, family stuff, etc..

I will do my best to write more regularly.  My dramatic reaction to my bestie moving away  inspired me to write tonight.

Family Differences.

mood-girl-bokeh-photography-sad-aloneWow.  Just got off the phone with my mom.  The call did not go well.  My relationship with my parents has not been easy.  Lots of ups and downs.  My parents basically have two families – My Twin and I, and then my other sisters who are 9 and 11 years younger.  I do remember things being great until my sisters came along.. then it all went to hell.  😉

A week ago my mom had a disagreement/confrontation with My Twin sister…  My Twin and my mom walked away from this conversation with very different views.  I don’t agree 100% with either of their perspectives, I feel that I have an in-between view so I tried to bridge the gap.  My attempt was disastrous.

My parents were much more strict with My Twin and I – the rules were much more rigid and the punishment much more severe. They are and have been much more lenient with my younger sisters.  Right or wrong, it is the way that it is.  My parents are good people. They did the best that they could. But that doesn’t take away the fact that their treatment of each of us was and is  very different.  And when you treat your kids so differently it creates animosity. ADDITION: Perceived favoritism has long term impacts on adult children.

My mom got very angry. In a very angry voice she told me that she and my dad did the best they could.  Accused me of “jumping on My Twin sister’s bandwagon” (playing victim), and being judgmental.  She said they help all their kids no matter what and that will never change.

I told my mom that I know that she and dad did the best they could, but that doesn’t change the experiences that My Twin and I had… I then said that the best way to deal with differing perspectives is to talk about it, so that we could better understand the bigger picture..  She did NOT agree. Said that she doesn’t owe My Twin and I any explanations, then basically hung up.  I do not want my mom to feel bad, but her anger doesn’t change feelings.

My mom and dad did their best. I am proud of them. They have gone through a lot and I respect that they want to help their children.  But what if one kid takes more than the other?  Helping one child over an over again can take away from time with the other children.  It is a fact of life – you only have so much time and energy.  The fact is that my parents continue to help my 36-year-old sister takes away from the time and energy my mom has to spend with the rest of her kids.   Example, my sister has lived with my parents for 18+ years.  She still lives with them – my sister, her husband, and her 3 kids. My mom takes her 10-year-old to school and babysits the 3-year-old everyday.  My parents, who have been retired for 3 years, just went on vacation, away from their own home “to get away and relax”.

My parents have not been out to see me in CA in over 4 years.  Yep. 4 years.  Yes I have invited them, even offered to pay for them to visit.  They have yet to fit it into their schedule.

I feel like giving up.  I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to have a relationship with my parents.  But the relationship feels one-sided for the most part. If this was a love relationship, we would have broken up long ago.  I do love my parents, it would be nice to have a more balanced relationship.  Even without my sister sucking up all their time and energy, I am not confident that they would desire such a relationship.  Makes me sad.

Anyone else have a complicated relationship with their parents?

ADDITION:  Sibling Favoritism.  This is the issue. My perception is that my mom loved my youngest sister best, the sister who still lives at home is my dads favorite.  My Twin and I had each other. It always felt as if my parents were a family with my sisters and My Twin and I were the odd ones out.  Advise on the web is to “get over it”…  not exactly sure how one does this.

For The Love of Yoga.

Yoga retreat 2016I just completed the last day of my yoga retreat in Ixtapa Mexico.  I am in transit – heading back home to Northern CA. I’m sad to be leaving….

First, Ixtapa Mexico is a wonderful place.  The people are great, the town is far less developed (touristy) than other cities in Mexico (Cabo, Cancun, etc).  I have always wanted to visit Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo and I’m glad I did – it is awesome.  I’ve always wanted to visit because it is where Andy Dufrane escapes to in the movie – Shawshank Redemption. And when his best friend Red gets out – he shows up too.  I think of Zihuatanejo as the Mecca to my favorite movie.  This place is great.

Second, one of my favorite people opened her world up to me.  I got to spend time with her and meet all her friends.  It’s a precious thing when the people you like want to share special people and moments.  When she told me about the retreat I was sold… I booked it right away – some 7 months ago – and now the trip is over….. 😦

I will do my best to summarize –

  • The instructor is simply amazing.  I LOVE Kundalini yoga.  I have not been able to find a yoga class or instructor that incorporates Kundalini, the breath, flow, and meditation in a class.  The yogi –  Jorge Luna – has me in love with yoga again.  His Yoga was a great combination of breath/connection (Kundalini) , stretch/movement/flow (Vinyassa), and fun!  Yes, remember when exercise was fun, not a task/to-do/chore?  Uh-hum mm, those days. I loved every day of class. And he has inspired me to re-launch my search for a yogi in my area that inspires me to get my ass out of bed on a weekend.
  • The people are just like me… But not.  Yep, all of these amazing people from all walks of life – different backgrounds, cultures, color, sex, gender preference.. You name it, it was in the mix.  No matter what was shared/observed, there was nothing but openness to learn, to understand, and to enjoy.  I realize this may sound “zen like”, but it’s true. Most of these people only see each other when on this trip – and they attend this retreat year over year to see their friends again.  It is a great group of amazing people from all walks of life.
  • The location – Las Brisas Resort– a beautiful natural preserve.  The hotel is a mere 15 minutes from the airport… It has a natural environment – it feels like you are in a rainforest, not in a Ritz Carlton.  It was very clean but not manicured. The pools were great and the beach was amazing.  The food was really good for an all-inclusive resort and they have some top notch restaurants available on premises.  The rooms were spacious and the resort was completely full two nights during my stay and it did not feel crowded at all.  My only complaint is that I wished they would turn off the pool fountains so we could hear the ocean from the pool…  I know right, first world problems.

Would I go again?  Absolutely.  I will definitely go on the next trip – if they will have me (Ask me about the “gummy experiment”).    I do hope I get an invite the next time around!!

 

 

 

What Are My Next Steps?

imageI have no idea what is next.  I have been unemployed for 10 days.  The longest I have been unemployed since I was 15.  I have spent this last week thinking about things.  My mind is a mess.. but I have tried to stay focused, to focus on what is important to me – my nieces.  They are only 6 and 8 once.. and they still idolize me.  But my mind wonders and I get very anxious – I get overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  The fact that:

1 – I don’t have a job

2 – that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up (or I do, but it isn’t what I’m currently skilled at)

3 – that I have zero motivation to get back “into the (software) game”.

My main goal at this moment is to stay focused in the present with my nieces.  This is where I am spending most of my energy right now.

So my life is not orderly right now (I know, very nice way of putting it right?!?).  The odd part for me is all about men – in the last 10 days,  I have had 2 men ask me out. I know.  I have been semi-ready to date again, and just as I get comfortable with this, my life turns upside down.  I met both men while employed – I met them 8 and 3 months ago.  What is interesting is that they both reached out to me just last week – within hours of each other.  It is strange to me – had one or both of them reached out to me months ago things could be very different.  Now that I’m unemployed and not sure about  my future, it doesn’t seem like the right time to start something – What if I decide to move to Turkey?  What if I move to Utah…?  What if I decide to do nothing and collect unemployment for 56 weeks?  My point is, now seems like the wrong time to start dating.

What are your thoughts? Seems like the most important thing for me right now is to figure my shit out….

Oh, I forgot to mention that A-Train has offered his 2nd bedroom up for free. So I can sublet or get rid of my apartment and live with A-Train for free. For those of you who don’t know, A-Train was my boyfriend for 2 years. We broke up in March of this year…. it was inevitable that we would not be together, but he did break up with me so he could be with someone else… which hurt.  It has taken time, but we have remained friendly, and is probably my best friend right now.

Just from a dating perspective, it’s probably not best to be living with an ex while trying to see other men.  Seems so Jerry Springer-ish…

So for those of you that don’t have your life all neatly wrapped in beautiful paper and with a pretty bow, what would you do? What have you done in this situation or a similar situation?  Love to hear and learn from your experiences.

Istanbul – Day 4 – Süleymaniye Mosque + Spice Market

I know, I know, what happened to Day 3?  I’ll get to that later.

Monday – Day 4 was a busy day for me –  a lot of walking. 5.5 miles of walking to be exact (thank you fitbit!!).  Because one of the grand mosques was closed (either Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia), I decided to wonder the Old City and soak in the energy, the people, the streets, the City as I moved towards Suleymaniye Mosque and the Spice Market via the University of Istanbul.

First and foremost, mosques are everywhere, and even the small ones are grand in my opinion.  Here is me, covered up and doing my best impression of Carrie from Homeland.  I was in the mosque for 5 minutes, soaking in everything… the people, the prayers, the space… I was in awe.. I had not expected such beauty and peace.

Instanbul_11-22-FirstMosque - Carina

The mosque is an unknown mosque – its in a small neighborhood where local people stop in and pray…. it’s not on a tourists map.. it’s just there, in plain site for everyone to use. Look at the beauty of the stones, the craftsmanship, the architecture.  These pictures do not do it justice either – you have to see it to believe it.

I left the mosque and meandered through the neighborhoods and finally reached the University. University of Istanbul was founded in 1453. That is 39 years BEFORE Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and stumbled upon America.  There is some history for you.

So my target mosque – Süleymaniye Mosque. Istanbul has 4 historical preservation sites, and Süleymaniye Mosque and its associated conservation area is one of them. Truly the site is something to behold – not just mosque, or the grounds, but the views and the story of the architect that pulled it all together.   Great story, beautiful place, and I’m glad that it will be protected for others to see and experience it for years to come.  Here are a few pictures that do not do it any justice but do give you an idea of what it’s like on the inside.  I also received quite a bit of literature from a volunteer at this mosque.  A lot of FAQ’s about Islam, Muslims, Allah, etc..  Once I read through the materials I will share what I learn.

Istanbul_11_22 -Süleymaniye Mosque-side Istanbul_11_22 -Süleymaniye Mosque2Istanbul_11_22 -Süleymaniye Mosque 1

IMIstanbul_11_22 -Süleymaniye Mosque-carpet

 

 

 

 

 

My next stop was the Spice Market.  The Spice Market is synonymous with the Spice Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar.  They all mean the same thing..  I didn’t like the Spice Market. It was way too crowded.. and the stores that surround the spice market are cheap kid toy stores….  I just wandering around and I didn’t see anything appealing at all –  I was glad to wander out of the Spice Bazaar.  I went to storefront 55 – a recommendation from Turkish Carpet man – they are friends. He would give me a good deal.  I didn’t bother to negotiate – I handed him Turkish Carpet man’s card and purchased a few items.  The next day I saw what I purchased for 1/2 price somewhere else.   Specifically, I purchased some Rose Water for 30 TL… I saw it the next day at a pharmacy for 12 TL…   I did not negotiate with the owner of storefront 55 because he was good friends with my Carpet Man…  I definitely didn’t get a “friends and family discount”.  The lesson learned here – ALWAYS negotiate. Never settle for the first price they tell you.  Even if they come highly recommended and you have a “special” connection.

My last activity for the day was a cooking lesson from CookingAlturka.com.  Rocco, our host, and the chefs were amazing – I learned how to make some of the more popular and two of my favorite foods – Red Lentil Soup and Lamb and Beef Stuffed grape leaves. Yum!  The secret ingredients – red pepper paste and equal parts of mint, parsley, and dill.  I am going to bring home the red pepper paste and this Z knife to chop up my herbs (since I cannot find it on Amazon).  Here is a great site to see the Zihr in action.

I finally got  back to my room at 10pm.. I was exhausted.  I brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, and went to bed.  It was a fabulous day…

There are 2 lessons today:

1 – Cover your blue eyes.   The day was not sunny but cloudy and warm. It was a perfect day. But I still had to wear my sunglasses. I found that I was not approached to purchase items or enter stores nearly as much when I had my sunglasses on vs. off.  I think that blue eyes are a bit of a rarity here in Istanbul (maybe all of Turkey I don’t know), so the hustlers see blue eyes and assume tourist.  Just a FYI for those of you blue-eyed folks traveling to Turkey… take your mirrored sunglasses and wear them. You will be glad you did.

2 – Always negotiate.  As with the rose water – even a friend of a friend will try to take as much money as possible. The Turks love to negotiate…  so give it to them.  Educate yourself on the cost of something then go for it.  If you are not a negotiator, well then, you will need lots of money.  🙂

O.k. I will do my best to catch up on Day 3 AND finish up Day 5 with a bang so there is something really fun to write about.  Day 5 is my day with Turkey Carpet Man…  all day…  I did also learn that he is Muslim.. so that is something. A very different culture, I’m surprised he is even interested in spending time with a Christian (although not all that Christian IMO) American…

Last but not least, I love the Call To Prayer.  LOVE IT.  I’ve recorded a few that I’ve heard.. I’ll try to share them. I don’t even know what they are saying, but it sounds great.  O.k. I have to go now…

 

Istanbul – Day 2 – Grand Bazaar and Kumkapi

2015_11_21_Grand Bazaar- entry Gate 1Wowza… yes, it’s some ridiculous time in the morning of Day 3 (Day 2 is way over, Day 3 has officially started)…

What a day.  I enjoyed breakfast at my hotel, went to the Grand Bazaar, then had dinner with a local.  Each of these experiences was like a lifetime in a good way… I am going to write an entry about what to pack/wear at some point (please don’t hold your breath), but this entry is just about my experience on Saturday Nov. 20th.

First, I went to the Grand Bazaar. It’s like an US Outlet Mall on super steroids. Halls and halls of the same thing – jewelry, bags, shoes, carpets, etc.. Don’t forget to look up, the ceiling in the Bazaar is incredible.  Before you go, practice saying “no” a thousand times. The shop owners are not shy, they really really really want to show you their goods. Often times the store front in the Grand Bazaar is very small and to see more items they will take you to a spot that has a lot more of what you are looking for. I went to the Bazaar looking for a few silver bowls. I walked out with a Channel purse.

Channel has never been my style, but when I saw this bag I fell in love.  The kind of love that makes the heart skip a beat, or stop beating all together… the kind of love I’ve not felt in a very long time.  Yes, I know, it is a thing (vs. a person or experience), but now it is in my possession.  I have a small, super special bag for all those formal events I never go to.  🙂

 

2015_11_21_musicians - google translateSecond, experiencing Istanbul with a local is very different from experiencing the city as a tourist.  Tonight I had dinner with a local at a place that isn’t touristy at all.  We went to Kumkapi – the locals call it the “fish market”.  It is an area with lots of restaurants, musicians, and singing and dancing.  My local, let’s call him Carpet Man, is very well-known in the community – people just love him.  He owns a carpet store (who doesn’t right?!?).  Here is a picture of the his friends, a few musicians, hanging out at our table. None of them had a sheet of music – they would pick a song and they would all start playing.. they looked at each other and felt the music.. Yes, the men here play instruments, sing, AND they DANCE. No, they are not gay. The are super manly men who cherish the important things in life –like friends, fun, and music.  I’m even more convinced that confidence is super sexy.  While I was there having a great time, it made me sad that music is no longer a part of the American education system.  It is not just about learning to play an instrument, it is also about sharing a passion with others, learning to listen and feel the music.. Never to late to learn right?!!?

So the way I’m getting around and communicating with locals is via pen and paper and Google Translate.  You can see in the picture above the gentleman is writing down the name of the instrument that he plays – It is called the Kanun. To see how it is played and hear some lively street music go here.  Simply amazing.

O.k… so that is it for my second day in Istanbul – first full day.  Hard to believe that I have only been in Istanbul for 24 hours.. I feel like I am at home.  And one more shout to the wonderful folks at Hotel Sari Konak.  I LOVE these people .. so helpful, so kind.. My room is awesome.  But it is the people who make this hotel so special.  They get great reviews – Trip Advisor Hotel Sari Konak… You cannot go wrong staying here.

Lesson for today:

1 – Go ‘Old School‘ and carry paper and pen.  It is the best way to communicate – the Turkish Language is complicated and doesn’t translate one for one into English.. I found that writing the words down helped when I couldn’t understand what was being said… and was very useful to spell the word correctly when using Google Translate.