Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: A Blast!

I know, I know, its not quite over yet but in 1 more day, I'll be saying "So long" to 2009 and "Hello!" to 2010. I look back at the year and despite some heartache and a few bumps, all in all, its been one fun-tastic year!

January 2009

I kicked off the year with an unforgettable Salsa/Yoga retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico that turned out to be simply mah-velous! It helped me take my salsa dancing to another level AND I got to meet some amazing people with the added bonus of finding another good friend in Seattle. I took a record 500 pictures and 63 videos which have been synthesized on my flickr photostream Oaxaca Collection

February 2009

My nephew Max and I had the 1st of many salsa dances and he declared, “I want to be a salsa dancer when I grow up!” – Oh yes, that’s definitely going to happen!! I got to experience the production of Lion King with my niece True (who loved it!) and gifted myself a Kindle 2. I also start my blog: as a
means of exploring, expressing and sharing my outlook on life.

March 2009

For the 1st time in almost 10 years, I have a mini-MIT reunion in San Jose. It was great to get acquainted with my god-daughter, catch up and old friends and their families! I’m happy to be the excuse for getting everyone together. Apparently, I’m the only one still playing volleyball. Inspired by my niece True and her love for dino’s. Here’s a picture of the little guy on flickr:

April 2009

As spring sprung, and dancing now takes up at least 4 nights a week, I’m loving every second of it! My glass blowing progresses nicely as well. I made a mushroom sculpture as a gift to my sister’s in-laws (here’s the picture). I end the month by travelling
to Maui
with my sister and her family and discover the joys
of shaved ice

May 2009

Its the sunniest summer for me here in Seattle so far! I started with a new team within Amazon: a training team that is chartered with developing courses to train Amazon’s business teams on the systems that they need to order products, work with vendors and manage the products that are sold on the Amazon website. A new version of Star Trek is released and MAN! did that movie rock out - it was awesome! There was a great trip to Victoria for my 1st Volleypalooza. Then another 1st: participating in a rueda dance demo at the Northwest Folk life festival. Finally, Volleyball Nationals
in Minneapolis
where we won in the silver bracket of the Women’s B division.

June 2009

True’s turns 5! I spend a day with my niece to take her shopping for her birthday and it was such a blast! She even drew out a cartoon describing the day! I also took a cake decorating class which led me to baking True’s birthday cake: a purple dinosaur. Then, I had a pleasant surprise being voted the “Best in Show” (aka crowd favorite) for a Student Art Exhibit at the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio. Did I mention I’m still dancing? A lot?

July 2009

The 4th was a blast: volleyball, salsa, fireworks, hang out with old friends and make new ones. I hike Franklin Falls for the 1st time with the kiddos and my sis and her hubby on a hike and its beautiful! One of my best friends from teaching days comes to visit me from Boston and we have a great time catching up! Her stay culminates in a Pig Roast where there was much fun to be had. My friends on both coasts are just too awesome for words. I learned about pulled sugar decorations for cakes too. At this point the summer is really heating up and I finally buy myself an AC so I can sleep at night! Dancing continues to be a blast.

August 2009

My sister’s in-laws are here and we take a family vacation to La
and the Olympics (famous because it is the place where the Twilight series of books). I have a new appreciation for the forests and beaches of Washington: its like a fairy world! Together with some friends from work, I embark on my first moderate hike to Serene Lake and Bridal Veil Falls – it was gorgeous! My nephew Max
turned 3 and we got to go shopping together too! I made him a Blue Angels cake (apparently the blue icing lasts for a few days). Summer is definitely in full swing and I’m enjoying the long days and dancing outdoors on the beach and in
the park
. Life is good.

September 2009

So much to do, so little time and why on earth is everything happening at the same time?! Dancing is undeniably a part of my life and I love every minute of it! I’m still playing volleyball and blowing glass and my blog is morphing into how dancing is just a metaphor for life ;) I’ve been in Seattle for 2 years now.

October 2009

I visit Boston for a week and I’m able to catch up with so many friends. I spend a beautiful fall day at the DeCordova museum. Fall's here and I get to enjoy a tradition I've setup with my niece, nephew and sister: Pumpkin carving !!!!

November 2009

More dancing: had a blast with the Emerald City Blues workshops early in the month and then attended my 1st Salsa Congress with the best roommates EVER! right here in Seattle. I also decided to join a salsa performance team. We’re still doing a lot of basic stuff and are hoping to have our 1st performance in June 2010.

December 2009

My sister’s family and I take a trip to Manila for the 1st time in almost 9 years. 2 weeks of eating, shopping, sitting in traffic ... I got to catch up with high school
I haven’t seen in ages and spend quality time with my family. I’m
looking forward to ending the year by dancing the night away and welcoming 2010.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Its been close to 10 years since I've been back home to Manila (Philippines). Some things seem to have been frozen in time while others have changed so much that I barely recognize them.

The Manila I remember was not so crowded, not so traffic-jammed with more open spaces. For the last 5 days, it seems like I've spent most of my time in traffic inside an air conditioned (thank goodness!) car traveling to the next "eating station" or "shopping station" as I get reacquainted with my old stomping grounds.

My niece True and nephew Max are here in the Philippines for the 1st time and its been wonderful to see them interacting with my mom and dad. Though they see a place that's not exactly like the one that I grew up with, its still way cool to see and hear their reactions.

My family are in good health and despite a few bumps (what family is truly free of bumps really?), I am confident in our love and support of each other.

I've also been blessed to have made friends with some extraordinary people with whom I can share my life with in the space of a few hours, in spite of the long periods of time that have passed: as if years were just the passing of one very busy day. They share with me, a warmth and affection that can only come from having gone through memorable and wonderfully formative years together.

We have all aged and have branched off to make our own paths but these times that we meet are still precious and true. They bring back memories of other friends that may not be present but are with us all the same.

What a gift for being home for the holidays!

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Don't Let Some Poopy Head Ruin Your Day!"

Poopy is derived from the word "poop" which is a child friendly form of the word shit.

"Poopy head" is a term that my niece and nephew use on each other when one of them does something silly or inexplicable. Most of the time, it happens when one of them is being just plain nonsensical. Sometimes its used when one of them is not being nice. Other times its used when one of them is being grouchy and just no fun to be around. And my favorite time is when they just call each other that to get a laugh.

So, my new motto for times when shit happens is: "Don't let some poopy head ruin your day!"

See, when shit happens, its usually accompanied by emotional bursts followed by one of 2 possible outcomes:
ONE: Things could escalate and drama ensues.
TWO: Emotions ride their course and there is no drama because you say
"I'm not going to let some poopy head ruin my day!"

I break it down very simply on purpose.

Oftentimes, when one is hip deep in the "shit" (whatever it might be): emotions run high, your involvement is so entrenched. It's too hard or complicated to pull back and put things in perspective.

As you deal with your emotions, there is a tipping point when the drama begins to escalate. Drama develops quickly when you start to get embroiled in things that are beyond your direct control: you may start to speculate or play what-if scenarios or even try to figure out - why?. Drama explodes when, in the midst of being upset, the final truth is hidden and all you can see is a forest of trees instead of the path to clear pasture.

I submit that it comes down to one question: Do you really want to let some poopy head, ruin your day?!

Heck, NO!

By the way, in some cases, the poopy head is you! In which case, you can just roll with it, don't beat yourself up unnecessarily, find a good friend to give you a hug and move on.

Because things are not always so clear cut, I have some additional DO's and a DON'T that might help in the event that shit does happen:
  • DO honor your emotions: there's usually no short-cutting things when you feel sad or angry because they come back to bite you. Do what you need to do to accept your feelings before you hit that drama tipping point.
  • DO ask yourself if there's something you can do to prevent the "shit" from happening again. Sometimes you could have done something to prevent shit from happening. Don't beat yourself up - just be responsible for it.
  • DO decide if you're going to just leave the poopy head be or address the situation. Sometimes the poopy head in question is someone you care about so you have another decision to make. If you do decide to address it, WAIT till the emotions boil over, it's better that way, trust me.
  • DO ask yourself (or find a friend who can listen to you vent and then ask you), "how much do I really want to let this bother me?" because after all, you DON'T want to let some poopy head ruin you day.
  • DON'T start questioning or doubting or putting yourself down about what happened: didn't you know? Shit happens all the time!

And, because there are times when you need a lifeline when shit happens, make sure to have handy:
  • A best friend that can listen to you without judging or getting you even more fired up.
  • Whatever memory or thought or thing that will make you smile without fail. Need some ideas? Dance, ice cream, hugs, chocolate ...
  • Sometimes, it helps to read what others are having a bad day about:
  • Dance! oh, i said that already

These little tidbits have liberated me from many miserable events in my life that I previously had so much trouble avoiding.

At the very least, its funny to say "poopy head". My niece and nephew will say (or hear) "poopy" and laugh.

Laughter is always the best medicine.

Monday, November 9, 2009

That Old Black Magic has Me In Its Spell

"...round and round I go.. In a spin, loving the spin I'm in, under that old black magic"
Complete lyrics are at the bottom of this post.

Immortalized by 'ol Frankie himself, I just wanted to share the lyrics to this song. It embodies for me what often times happen on the dance floor: a brief, but magical love affair to some sassy tune between a leading lady and her leading man.

I spent the weekend at the  Emerald City Blues Festival and learned a lot about the lead-follow connection so perhaps that's why this song in spinning around in my head. Every instructor said the same thing about how to have the best dance (not specific to blues):

  • Connect with the music (sing with it if you can)
  • In the beginning, spend some time to get to know your partner 1st
  • Lead's initiate
  • Follow's execute and showcase with flourish
  • Relax and slow down, don't rush the dance: leader's wait for your follow to respond, follows wait for the lead
  • Leads, showcase your follow and if something isn't working, don't force the move, just try something else.
  • Follows don't stay in the middle ground, be clear about your movement and finish your moves instead of 2nd guessing what the next one is going to be.
Does this not also apply to that day-to-day dance in life when boy meets girl? Just substitute the words dance and music for life and relationships and its such a perfect fit. Outside the dance floor, not everyone's dancing to the same music at any point in time: a big part of the challenge in making the magic happen.

The framework of a dance is finite: its got a start and finish and if both parties wish it, they can meet up again to dance or thank each other and go their separate ways. This isn't always so clean cut where people and relationships are concerned but if you keep in mind how much fun it can be and how good it can feel - I think these basic rules of dance can be used as the same basic guidelines in life.

After all, we call could use a good dose of that old black magic.

-by Frank Sinatra

That old black magic has me in its spell, that old black magic that you weave so well.
Those icy fingers up and down my spine
That same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.
The same old tingle that I feel inside, and then that elevator starts its ride
And down and down I go, round and round I go, like a leaf that's caught in the tide.
I should stay away, but what can I do?
I hear your name and I'm aflame
Aflame with such a burning desire that only your kiss can put out the fire.
For you're the lover I have waited for, the mate that fate had me created for.
And every time your lips meet mine, darling, down and down I go, round and round I go
In a spin, loving the spin I'm in, under that old black magic called love

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let Go and Experience the Magic

[I believe that partner dance is one huge metaphor for life and if I ever get around to writing something more than a blog entry, this would be one of the chapters...]

I once read about this advice somewhere: let go and experience the magic.

Partner dancing as a follower has taught this to me time and time again.

Aside from the obvious characteristics that make up a good dancer: balance, musicality, presence, style, rhythm, poster, etc. a good follow has to have one key trait: the ability to let go and truly connect with the music and the lead.

Partner dancing is not about who has control. Its about connecting with the music and then working together to create movement with one person initiating and the other responding.

While the connection to the music is the key to establishing this wonderful interlude, for me, the true magic of the dance happens when I react to the movement initiated by my lead without having to anticipate what’s coming next. The dance becomes a series of moments that flow so seamlessly, where things just fit together almost as if they were just meant to be.

Not every dance is this way, there are certain styles that can be difficult to dance with. There are certain dance leads who use moves that don't quite fit with the melody and rhythm that defines the song. Regardless, when I dance with a lead that can match the music, no matter what his style of dance or level of dance is, as long as we have that connection, I let go and the rest of the world just fades to the background. 

I know I have a great dance when intended moves that don't quite turn out as they were first envisioned do not cause a "bump" in the dance. That moment is not marred by apologies. Instead, the magic continues: there is something new that was just "created" , always a shared smile of accomplice and the dance continues, uninterrupted.

The same is true in life: letting go of the outcome contains the ultimate reward. As with dancing, there less stress, less anxiety and less disappointment from non-existent expectations: things are smooth, joyous and fun.

There is a sense of stability in staying true to yourself, a focus on being independent and owning your own happiness. There is a confidence that comes with being so in tune with the present moment that what to do next just unfolds with ease.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to let go, especially when you want something so very, very much or when you're just learning something new. But, just think back to times when it seemed like something “magical” happened. You might be able to trace it back to moments where you haven’t been as “in control” as you thought you should be. The “pleasant surprise” is a surprise because you had no expectations – you just went along your merry way and "hello!" something nice happened.

When I find myself stuck, its usually because things are not the way I want them to be: I'm too wrapped up in why and the how and the "what the heck happened?" To get un-stuck, I dance ;) or, I breathe, focus instead on enjoying what I have in the present and let go.

There are many other people that have shared this same sentiment in words far more eloquent that I could ever come up with so I’ll end with several quotes that I could've used as titles to this blog:

Loving someone is setting them free, letting them go.
-- Kate Winslet

“Less is more.”
-- Unknown

“Don’t force it.”
-- Unknown

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
-- Oprah Winfrey

By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.
-- Lao Tzu

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
-- Raymond Lindquist

Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties,
-- Gail Sheehy

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
-- Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I received one of the best compliments ever while dancing on Monday night and it inspired me to write about some memorable compliments that I and other friends have received. This is written as a tribute and a big SHOUT OUT to everyone responsible for these comments: you have given the recipients of  your remarks a memory guaranteed to bring out a smile.Thank you so very much!

Here they are listed in no particular order with some license on the wording because I don't have perfect memory. Some were said, some written and it's no surprise that a lot of them have to do with dancing. :D I don't believe any of these are trademarked and I'm sure they're ok to repeat to someone else if you meant it. Feel free to share more by posting through comments below. Enjoy!

"You're such a great follow that it doesn't matter how f_ _ _'d up my lead is, you'll still follow it." 
NOTE: This was of course followed up with "That was meant to be a compliment by the way."

"That was the best dance of the night." 
NOTE: Later when bidding goodbye at the end fo the night, this person added: "I was having an off night and after our dance things turned around. That was definitely a great dance."

"I think I was a fan even before I danced with her"


NOTE: This is definitely situational too - it happened at the end of the dance that was too sweet for words and we both said it at the same time when the dance ended.

"Dancing with you reminds me of dancing with my wife."

"You always make me look good."

"I'm really happy that you're in my life."

"Thank you for being you."

"Everytime I have an email from you in my Inbox, my heart smiles."

" Your smile just lights up my day."

" That was just perfect."

"That was HOT!!"
NOTE: Believe it or not, the actual context for this one was during a volleyball game. The left side hitter had just scored a point on a hit he just NAILED and the 1st thing he did when he landed was turn to his setter and say this.

"Its so much fun to watch you dance. You enjoy it so much and dance so gracefully."
NOTE: Delivery was way cool because it was given by some total stranger who was not a dancer and just watching on the sidelines.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Reflections

No matter how many times I've experienced it, I never tire of the fall: the green leaves turn into golden hues of yellow, orange or red, the air is crisp and the ground cover is now dominated by golden brown leaves that have fallen from the trees as they grow dormant.

I am visiting New England after being away for 2 years. Its been a lovely, restful visit so far; punctuated by delicious, indulgent meals that I hope are balanced out by my walking around. (I have some serious dancing to do to make-up for all the food that I'm eating!!!!)

Its been so much fun walking through my old haunts and seeing what's familiar and new: changes that mark the passage of time and talking to friends that I haven't seen for a while and enjoying our memories and new adventures.

This is a perfect break from my normal routine. I'm celebrating everything that I have and all that I am looking forward to:
Dancing, volleyball, glass blowing, new friendships, old friendships, family, travels.... who knows what else?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Simple Rules for the Social Dance Floor

I am surprised and saddened by the bad experiences people sometimes have on the social dance floor. I wanted to share some simple rules that I believe would make bad experiences extinct. In my ideal world, there would be NO bad things on a social dance floor.

Here goes!

From Webster's (
Pronunciation: \ˈsō-shəl\
Function: adjective
Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with one's friends or associates

1) The key word is SOCIAL: It’s not a classroom or a performance stage. It’s a laid back, social gathering that is meant to be pleasant. There's no test, there's no grade. People go out to socialize and have a good time. Keep it FUN, keep it joyful, keep it relaxed. I know there are many factors that could add stress to a social gathering and things may not always turn out the way you want them to but don’t force it: magic does happen when you let go and just go with the flow. [and I’m not just talking about being a follow :) ]

A small note about PRACTICA: A PRACTICA can be a bit different since the purpose behind them is for practicing moves BUT, it’s still social. So, for you leads who like to perfect a move: we follows love that perfect lead and we also understand that you need to practice but please remember that some people do go to practices to just enjoy dancing in a non-class, non-clubby atmosphere. Keep the practicing to short spurts - check in about whether the practice time is too much. Sometimes, you just need to dance and relax instead of beating a move to death.

2) Remember to look at your partner and SMILE: A smile is a wonderful thing. For so little effort, it can immediately put your partner at ease. Its infectious. The returns on this one small gesture on your part is priceless. Honestly, I think it’s the one thing that is entirely within your control where the return on investment is HUGE! Just think about bringing out the smile on that dance crush you’re currently into … sigh :D [Speaking of which, I need to make a plug on salsa crushes here.]

3) Do unto others as you would have done to yourself: I know this is totally cliché but it’s a universal truth and really, a very simple rule. If you don't like it when you experience it, odds are someone else won't like it either. Some of us may not have been brought up in the same social circles of etiquette but if you keep in mind the things that you like and don’t like, and make sure that you don’t do the things you don’t like to other people, I think it’s safe to say that you won’t step on anyone’s toes.

For those of you that need some concrete examples of what NOT to do:
Don't grope
Don't nag
Don't teach
Don't handle your dance partner like a rag doll
Don't ignore the person who's right in front of you

4) Remember: Its only a few minutes – just grin and bear it.: There will be times when you’re in the “lemon” situation. Where you’ve either said yes to a dance or asked someone to dance who is hopelessly off beat or just plain uncomfortable to dance with (for whatever reason). It’s only a few minutes of your life. Yes, they could be rude. Yes, they could be creepy. Yes, they could be totally “ewwwww”. For those few minutes (and hopefully it’s not a song played by a live band that’s lasting 10 minutes or longer) in your life, just plaster that fake smile and grin and bear it. You don’t have to accept (or ask for) a dance the next time you see them AND (more importantly) don’t let the experience ruin the rest of your night! Brush it off like water off a duck and move on.

I know this last rule can be hard. After all, you can't control someone else's actions. Here's the question to ask yourself: "Why let a ______ (you can insert whatever negative adjective you want here) person ruin your day?" Absolutely make sure you have your support system nearby so that you can vent to your hearts content and immediately replace those last few minutes with something much more worthwhile.

When all is said and done, I believe that dancing is meant to be a joyful expression and one that should not take place in an environment that causes someone else to feel bad. These simple rules just help to reinforce that.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Reflection: One Door Closes, Another One Opens

I love the fall! It's just as vibrant as the summer. The warmth of the yellows, oranges and reds of the changing foliage light up the landscape. The cool, crisp cold air now accompanies the sunny days. The colors of the sunset somehow seem a bit more vibrant despite dropping temperatures and shorter days. Despite the fact that I have to put away my sandals, tank tops and shorts; its a good time. The fall is a time for reflection, another change, a new year is coming while the old one winds down.

Sometimes that reflection makes me melancholy because I remember some things that I love that are no longer meant to be.

But, as the saying goes: when one door closes, another one opens. The universe (or higher being or whatever it is you believe in) never ceases to amaze me by providing new experiences for me to revel in, so I don't get stuck wanting something that is no longer within my reach.

Last night was one such experience.

In my salsa journeys, while exploring music, different styles and different instructors I became aware of sub-cultures [I'll write more about that another time]. I've met so many great people but discovered that these people didn't all get along! Salseros consist of casineros, the la style dancers, the on1's, on2's...I'm sure I'm still missing a few.

I started dancing rueda - which is basically casino style but in a circle, where there's a caller that calls out steps which the circle performs. I love it because its partner dancing with a group and you get to dance with everyone in the circle. There's something satisfying about the coordinated movement as well as the lip-smacking goodness of traveling and going in and out of this circle in unison.

This led me into one of the sub-cultures: the casineros who dance the cuban style salsa. They have such zest for the music and dance - you can hear them singing and exclaiming their enjoyment as they dance. Its infectious :)

I love dancing both casino and LA style and often lament on the fact that I can't have both in one place and that the people I like who dance one and the other don't really mix. Not only that, there seemed to be a dominance of the LA style in the "mainstream" and a lack of awareness for the cuban style. I would really like to see one venue with a little bit of something for both and an equal way for one side to learn more about the other.

Last night was a baby step in getting to that.

Last night at the Century I was able to dance with some of my favorite casino leads, salsa leads (on1 and on2) and it ROCKED! AND - there was a performance of Casino and an impromptu performance of Rueda (that I was able to join in on)

Until I figure out a better way to embed the video from facebook - here it is!

A wonderful congruence of dancing styles (casino, LA, on1, on2, cha-cha, merengue, bachata) and an experience I hope to repeat - where I can dance every style and type that I enjoy, with my favorite leads and some new ones - all on the same night :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Romance is Alive and Well

I hope that the person that shared this with me doesn’t mind me writing about it – I just wanted to celebrate the fact that romance Is not buried in this high tech, on-the-go world that we live in.

I am currently just past the point of the “frenzied enthusiast” as a dancer. I'm slowly moving past the mentality of dance, dance, dance with very little time spent on talking and socializing. Just past the point where it’s no longer all about getting better and maximizing dance time. I am now at the point where it’s also about getting to know the people that share in the fun.

One of the reasons I have embraced dancing is the community that comes with it. In the course of the last 6 months, as my dancing has grown, I have also had the pleasure of meeting with and getting to know a group of wonderfully diverse people who are just as enthusiastic about the dance as I am.

This story comes from a one of my favorite leads. He's a favorite because of the way he mixes steps from other dances into his salsa dancing. I am always a big fan of fusion because when it’s done well, it brings together the best of so many different worlds.

One evening, we were chilling and chatting just before dancing started; getting to know a little bit about what we each do when we’re not out dancing. I found out that he and his wife are retired and while they both dance, she no longer comes out social dancing as often as he does. The cool thing is that they still share the joy of the dance.

When he goes home near or just past midnight after a night of social dancing his wife will ask if he wants to dance. Of course he does! So they dance together till the wee am hours and wake up to the morning light in each others embrace.

What a life!

When I heard this, it warmed my heart (yes, I know - that's such a cheezy expression). But it gave me hope for a future that I certainly want: to everyday have the opportunity to dance some idle time away with my leading man, sweet music playing in the background.

That's the cherry on the icing.

In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying the dance I'm in, looking forward to more nights of being swept of my feet, connecting with someone else to music that I enjoy and getting to know all sorts of interesting people along the way.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Casualties of Salsa

I've never really had a bad night of dancing except for one very HOT, very CROWDED night at one of my favorite venues in Seattle. The Bikram Salsa wouldn't have been bad by itself  but it was aggravated by the fact that in the first 5 (or maybe it was 6) songs that I danced, I got kicked, stepped on, butt bumped or elbowed once in each song. In the next dance, I hadn't even gotten halfway through it and I got stepped on twice in same cross body lead. [For those of you who do not dance salsa, this is equivalent to 8 beats of music which would be like getting stepped on twice in less than 8 seconds.]

Something SNAPPED...

I did something that I never thought I would do: I stopped dancing. I apologized to my dance partner and told him that I had to stop. I was just too mad to continue and I needed a breath of fresh (cool) air. I explained that it wasn't him and that I needed to just step out and off the dance floor. He was nice enough to walk out with me, I think I freaked him out a little bit (I mean I was freaked out by myself!) and kind enough to keep me company while I literally and figuratively cooled off.

The more experienced dancers will say, its the lead's responsibility to protect his partner - to keep her from being stepped on or from stepping on (or bumping, nudging, hair whipping, slapping) someone else.

I agree with that for the most part but EVERYONE should take some responsibility on a crowded dance floor.

Last night my left ankle fell victim to a few more heel kicks and stomps when it was already bruised from a man's heel the night before that. A casualty of the crowded salsa dance floor.

SO - here are some tips on not being the cause of casualties on a crowded dance floor and how to watch yourself so you don't become a casualty.

Oh yes, make no mistake:  it CAN be done, you can dance unscathed on a crowded dance floor!

There are many types of dancers but I highlight these specifically because on a crowded dance floor, these are the ones to really watch out for:

Dancing with the arm swinging, broad stepping, not-quite-sure-what-I'm-doing beginner
Leads - you know who I'm talking about here. This is the girl that hasn't really danced salsa before. Odds are she's here with some girl friends and may have had a drink or 2 (or more!). She's wearing heels that are quite lovely to look at but impossible to dance in and seems to think that taking large steps with her weight planted firmly on her heels is the best way to keep up with you. Oh, and she also thinks that having her hands out will help her dance better (not!).

If you find yourself dancing near this couple, try to position yourself on the lead side of the couple and move away from the follow, keep her in front of you and in your sights. Alternatively, if you're the "knight" kind of lead, you would step with your back facing this follow, so that you take the brunt of arms or legs flaying and earn the eternal gratitude of your own follow.

The Arms-are-all-over-the-place Casinero

Ah, yes! I love casino dancing and my experiences so far have been that they are actually one of the best dancers to be with on the packed dance floor. I think its because they're already moving around so they have a 360 view of the room and are better armed to keep you safe. BUT, there are some leads that just get so crazy into the dance that they forget there are other people around. Not only that, their enthusiasm is so infectious that their partner starts to follow suit. This couple is tough because they'll travel on the dance floor and not stay in one slot so you'll have to keep a constant watch on their movements. I would just steer clear of this couple and let others be your shield. If you find yourself dancing with one as a follow - then you're all set because other couples will be avoiding you.

Another tactic is to observe before you make your way out to the sea of dance. These are some things to watch for:

 The BIG Back Step - need I say more? This one is likely to trip you up so if you're dancing anywhere near, just make sure you're not too far away from your partner in case they get tripped up by that BIG back step. 

The BIG Cross Body - less is more but some people just want to "swing out" their partner on the cross-body. You can see it coming, make sure to stay out of the "line of fire" !

The Traveling Spinner - anytime a spin is initiated by a neighboring couple, pay attention!

The Clueless Bystander - these are the folks that are there mainly to watch but they also don't know that stepping out on the dance floor, drink in hand, just wandering around is just NOT a good idea. 

Finally, when in doubt, here's WHAT YOU CAN DO
1) STICK TO THE BASICS, there's something to be said for having a nice clean dance without all the fancy moves. Just chill to the music and enjoy the connection with your partner.
2) Closed position is your friend. Don't mistake this for the closed "I want you next to my body" embrace. I'm not encouraging that you invade your partner's space unless that's really what both of you want. In closed position, its easier to maneuver and abort a lead that's about to cause a casualty or be the victim of one.
3) Small steps: less is definitely more when its a crowded dance floor. Remember to keep your feet under your body.
4) Keep your arms and legs close to you whether you're turning, doing shines, etc.
5) Look before you extend: if you like to style your arms or sweep your legs, take a quick look before you go for it.
6) Weight forward! If you're wearing heels - there's very little reason that all your body weight should be on your heel - see 3 above.

And above all, be gracious. Apologize if you need to and don't forget that there are other people out there with you trying to have a great time dancing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I've started and stopped writing a post everyday for the last week now. I think its time to publish something. I've held back mainly because its been all about dancing. In the last 3-4 weeks I've been attending workshops and out social dancing. I thought that it would be boring to just post about dance all the time.

Then I realized that its not just about the dancing. My head is bursting from all sorts of things that I've been so lucky to be a part of. So, here it is, the recap.

I've hit a new level of understanding about myself.

I used to worry so much about missing out on something or about offending people by saying "no thanks". I even worried about no longer being included if I said "no" too many times! It took up too much energy and it detracted from the enjoyment of the things that I do.

Now, I've realized that its good to be faced with so much opportunity - one simply can't go wrong with making a choice. I'm just so grateful for everything that I'm a part of.

I've been working on letting go of remnants from the past that prevent me from moving forward. I've incorporated a little meditation in my practice and in part of that process, I give thanks to the universe at large for these things that bring me joy. Its only been a few weeks and already I can see that spending the time to think about and articulate what brings joy and harmony into my life has only allowed more of that to come through. By acknowledging that part of my life so explicitly, it can overshadow the negativity that can so easily bring me down.

What's more important to me? Worrying about the past or about things that I cannot control or reveling in the present opportunities I have to continue to grow and be joyful?

I choose joy.

I use this word to describe those times when I get a rush, a thrill, that puts me on such a high that when I remember the moment, always brings a smile on my face.

I have been lucky enough to experience such moments on the dance floor.

On one of my nights out, in that "one more dance" moment, I accepted an invitation to dance.

It began very politely with the "introduction" - I could already tell he was experienced enough to "test the waters" before diving into the dance. As the song began its rise, he began to expand his lead, to play with the music and add in more moves. We were well matched: we hit all the right beats and matched the increasing tempo of the music. There were turns and shines and little accents that were just "mwah!" so right with the song.

When the music ended with our final embrace, we both said "wow!" simultaneously.


"You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend."

I was watching The Holiday (Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black) and this line struck such a chord with me - it was almost as if someone was talking to me directly and it made me realize that I have been acting like the best friend.

Time to step up and be the leading lady :)

I've always thought of myself as the wing person or the best friend. I know I'm intelligent and capable and extremely trustworthy but I have never truly seen myself as "that girl". Its never fails to surprise me when I am complimented and acknowledged. A 29-year old flirtation asked me why it was so surprising to believe and I realized that the reason I'm so surprised is because I never thought of myself as the leading lady.

Everyone is the leading lady (or man) in their own life and when that point truly hits home, that's when all the magic starts to happen. Though there will be drama: ups and downs, the key to this thought is the power around being the lead.

I never thought I'd be saying this but I've hit a saturation point.

There is such a thing as too much dancing! 3 weeks of dancing involving 6-7 consecutive days with workshops spaced in between will do it. My record for number of days dancing in a row is now up to 8.

My head is filled with new dance patterns, music rhythms, instruments to listen for and a whole new world of dance instruction and performance. Its been exciting and fun and it has stretched me both mentally and physically in a way that I have not yet experienced before.

I would say its refreshing except that I was exhausted from lack of sleep :)

When the dust finally settled, I was able to just dance for the fun of it last night and it centered me again.

AH! That just felt good.

I got to the venue late and from the 1st dance onward, didn't get a break. I got to dance with almost all my favs (alas, some had to leave early) and with some new faces and got paid the nicest compliments - all while doing something that I love! What more can I ask for?


Reset. Ready for more!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rhythms, Passion and Celebrations

Its one of those weekends again when I wish I could be 6 places at once. In the last week, the weekend events just started to pile up! Good problem but still, hard to pick which ones to "give up". Someone really needs to invent that transporter. "Beam me up!"

Ah, but so far, I cannot complain. Its a win win win no matter what event I pick.

Let's see if I can sum it up:
brunch in bed
romantic comedy
dramatic flare
"mwah!" on the dance floor

All that in one day! Not bad, not bad at all :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On a Nice Sunny Day

Its been an interesting week. I've had anger issues that I'm trying to purge from my system and at the same time, some pretty darn good moments to revel in.

Over the long weekend, the cold of fall made its presence known to mark the coming of the next season. Today - its an Indian summer! The sky is clear and I can see Mt. Rainier from the window I sit next to on the 18th floor of The Columbia Center. I'm lucky enough to have next door, a concrete plaza with benches and a water sculpture where I can sit and soak in the warmth and vitamin D. The sounds of running water splashing on concrete almost mask the hustle and bustle of the vehicles and pedestrians on the downtown street just a few meters away. Its my urban get-away during the work week.

I've been able to appreciate, that for all the trouble I'm having trying to rid myself of the negativity I feel about a small part of my life, I am having way more fun that ever.

Last night I went out dancing and just as I was ready to leave, fell into the "ok, one more dance" cycle and got to share some wicked awesome dances!!! WHOOSH! Oh, what a feeling indeed. Despite my tired feet, I was energized and the high still echoes through today.

I also ran into a former colleague who needed to vent. As we sat outside, basking in the warmth of the sun, I like to think that I gave her that channel to disperse her negative energy; look forward to all the other positive things she has going for her and take steps to improve the not-so-happy situation that she finds herself in.

Good vibes all around!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

is a good thing!

How many people can say that they danced the weekend away?

Well ok, I guess people who are just as crazy about dancing as I am :)

BUT - seriously - I can't say enough about an activity that is:
1) Good for your spirit
2) Good for your health
3) Allows you to interact with people
4) Helps you grow in confidence and style
5) Provides a natural high (you know, endorphins, in the moment flirtations)

I just finished a class called Role Reversal: I, as a follow learned to lead and other leads learned to follow. The class was a small and intimate gathering of 10 people. It was a BLAST! Not only do I have a better appreciation for what it means to lead in a dance, but I actually started having fun with it.

Watch out people!

Not really :P

I still prefer being a follow. Its much more enjoyable to let go, enhance and react than to actually instigate in a dance. I get more time to listen to the music and every so often, suggest, through my movement something that ends up initiating things anyway :)

Ain't that a metaphor for what happens in life?

Its taken a year but I'm finally starting to get to know people too so going to dances isn't just about dancing anymore. Its also about catching up with familiar faces. Its easy to forget about getting to know someone when you're having so much fun on the dance floor and so, when I have those moments to talk, its something to appreciate as well.

I'm taking a break to nap and veg on this rainy Labor Day and am looking forward to ending the day with some more dancing.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Starting the Week Right

Monday's are usually days to dread.

I love Mondays! I get to end the day dancing :D

Today was a bonus Monday. I woke up to a mystical, magical morning of fog rolling in from the bay. The blanket of mist made its way up the hill and covered the roads in front of my building. It was like waking up to clouds.

When I made it to work, I got to see the same blanket over the cityscape instead. It was fascinating to watch the fog make its way across the tops of building to the highway.

I had a productive day, checked off my list at work and managed to squeeze in time to socialize as well. Good times!

Dancing on Monday nights, practica at Halo. I am now at the point in my dancing where I know more people and am not just dancing anymore. Getting to know my fellow follows and the leads I dance with is just as fun as the dancing that I love so much.

I have taken to heart what I learned about the joy in dancing and letting the music tell me what to do. I can now dance with my lead and as I follow, allow the music to guide me and make the dance a fun and flirty interaction. Bonus points when the energy between us matches the energy of the music and its contagious. Ah! Those dances are the best - doesn't matter if there were missed leads or moves - that energy is euphoric for me.

I am always humbled by the compliments I get. It is enough for me to know that the people I dance with have enjoyed dancing with me. When I get comments from fellow dancers that see me dance, it always takes me by surprise and I am thankful. I feel like I still have a lot to learn but at least the joy that I experience is manifested in my movement - one can never go wrong when you love what you do and it brings you joy.

This is what I get to do every Monday night - lucky me!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

When No Plans Lead to the Best Days

I plan things out for a living. I make sure tasks are well defined, assigned, given due dates and then work hard to push to make commitments. I do that with my free time too because I like doing so many different things, I have to make sure they all fit together.

I read a book once that recommended "relinquish control and let the magic happen". This is somewhat against my nature but I do have moments where I can "go with the flow".

Every now and again, I leave days open: days when I have no plan. I LOVE it when those days just play out wonderfully!

Despite a forecast of rain, it turned out to be a beautiful day. I spent time just being by myself, getting a new do with highlights, enjoying my family, dancing on the beach, getting to know some people better, dancing with city lights in the background and eating yummy pizza with fun company.

All in all - quite an enjoyable day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gauranteed to Bring A Smile

I am blessed indeed to have 2 things that I can always count on to put a smile on my face.

Here's my best boy, my nephew Max, wrapped up in a python (yes, I did that) with a big smile on his face, still holding on to his cars that we got for his birthday.

My niece True is getting longer and longer every time I see her! Pretty soon, she'll be taller than me and I won't be able to toss her around like I do now.

Lots of hugs, smiles and silliness... :D

Truly - I am blessed.

And I Should Care Why?

Within the past year, I've settled very nicely into my life in Seattle and have really been blessed with a wealth of new friends, being closer to my family and lots of new things to do.

At the same time, I've had the "pleasure" of going through a couple of relationships that have left me less than my joyful self: one was heartbreaking, the other just hurtful.

In both cases, I was told by the respective sources, that it wasn't because of me.

Sound familiar?

While there is some comfort in not being "guilty" of any wrong-doing, being innocent does not really "save you any licks" in the process of recovering from such things. In the end, in order to move on and get back to my happy place, I came to the conclusion that neither of them cared enough to work through things with me and it is what it is. I had to work through my own feelings so that I would respond to them in an equal manner. Remember my "Tee"bit? In relationships, actions (from others) must be met with equal reaction".

I am at a point with both of these people where I've categorized them into the "acquaintance" bucket. The one where I don't spend a lot of energy on and in dance events where we intersect, may still enjoy dancing with them.

Strangely enough, without my prompting for it or even desiring it, both these people volunteered information about what they were going to be doing over the weekend (in one case) and on some random evening.

And I should care why?!

Life is funny like that - when you least care about something, "stuff" happens. I'm chalking it up to the "spice" in life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Random "Tee"Bits

Today I felt like getting things down and out of my head to share. Possibly the weekend of sensory overload had something to do with it. I feel like there's all this "stuff" in my head and to help me process it and make way for more "stuff", writing it down did the trick. There's no inherent importance in the order except that the 1st one is the most recent of my discoveries.

"Life is Dance" - I used to think volleyball was the key to understanding how the world works. It did for a while but to me, not everything in my life is about competing and winning. Now I believe that dance is a more complete analogy. There are all sorts of music tracks that one can choose to hear and follow. You follow one or more that you resonate with or are curious about and meet people that dig the same beat. Changes can happen and you start to hear some things that you like and somethings that you don't. Sometimes you lead, and sometimes you follow and you meet all sorts of people along the way, some stay with you as friends while others just weave in and out and maybe back again. There's the dance reflecting the chase and flirtation between men and women that is so embedded in afro-cuban dance. There's also your own base beat that you're in tune with and when you find someone else who's base beat harmonizes with yours and is open to the dance just like you are; making music together, enjoying life's rhythms together and leading and following in sync with you, then you know you've come home. [I know, I know, its a tall order but its definitely possible.]

"Resistance IS futile" - if something starts to get hard and difficult and its no longer fun, that's a RED flag for drama and hard times. The choice is to run away or deal with it. Either way, there should a voice going "Danger Wil Robinson!!!" [and yes, I just dated myself with that quote.] The objective when met with resistance is to remove it or remove oneself from its presence.

"Attachments that are formed too quickly can just as easily detach" - just means that you gotta put time into something for it to be worthwhile and last. While I love it when things happen so quickly and easily, I have learned that it is not always the best foundation for something long term. Every now and again, the exception is true and I've been blessed with many of those moments but in general, don't get attached too quickly - it can hurt like the dickens when things fall apart.

"Always remember to be thankful for what gives you joy" - pretty straight forward. We don't say thank you enough and it makes people feel wonderful to know they're appreciated. If you believe in a higher power - then be thankful for the good that you receive.

"Where other people are involved, you can never really tell why things happen and even when they tell you, you can never really tell." - I am a trusting soul and give people the benefit of the doubt but the truth is, even though I can be honest about how I feel and what I say, not everyone is or can be. If you weren't there, you'll never really know the truth of what happened so unless you can be in someone's brain, its all about what they choose to tell you and how you choose to receive it.

"Make sure you give yourself space to just be you." - because I love being with people, doing and learning things, I tend to let myself get carried away by the momentum of events and other people so much that sometimes, I lose track of what's important to me. I always leave some time when there is NOTHING going on so that I can just be me.

"What goes around comes around... sometimes it just takes a while and sometimes, you just don't see it." - My personal belief is that while I may not have the satisfaction of seeing someone live through the same negativity they cause others to experience, I have faith that they do experience the same negativity in other ways. Works the same way with the good stuff except that the good stuff, you definitely see.

"Always have a source of hugs readily available." - I'm lucky enough to have my niece and nephew as my hug source but everyone needs an abundance of such things.

"Always have something readily available that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face - like ice cream" - yes, yes, what can I say, I love ice cream and cake partly because of the taste but also because a smile always comes to my face when I have some (or think of having some).

"Don't take things for granted but don't let them get to you either." - treat things with respect but also know when to let go.

"Whenever a door closes, there is always another one open, you just have to step out of your comfort zone to go check it out." - Totally and utterly true - my faith in this has yet to be broken.

"In relationships, every action must have an equivalent reaction for things to continue happily forward." - I guess this one is my tribute to "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." I find this to be true whether you're talking about friendships or romance. Despite the fact that I am constantly "breaking" this rule, things work best if one only acts equal to the other's actions. [Remember the whole lead/follow analogy? you've got to follow the lead with the right amount of energy, otherwise its not quite right.] Naturally if things get bad, one must stay true to one's values and all that but all things being equal and good, relationships are not "comfortable" when one party over-reaches.

And finally, a quote that I've posted before:
" Life's a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don't worry about what you don't know
Life's a dance you learn as you go"

~lyrics from Life's A Dance Lyrics Artist: John Michael Montgomery

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

05-20-2009 Bright, Sunny Outlook

So its day 3 in my new job and I am really excited at the projects that are coming my way. I'm starting slow and that's just perfect.

In the 20+ years I've been working, I've finally learned that there will be ebs and flows to work load and that I shouldn't feel guilty when its ebbing because there will be a flow to counter balance it all soon enough.

What's up for me today? Its such a nice day, I plan to walk home (though its a bit later than I thought). Then prepare a quick dinner, head out for my salsa class and then meet up with Naomi and Paul for Star Trek on IMAX!!!!!

THAT is an AWESOME movie.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Me for LIfe

I think I finally found my voice... at least for a blog anyway ;P

Since I've moved to Seattle and started posting updates on Facebook, I get comments from friends and family about how I am living such a full life with fun activities. I thought about their comments and usually shrug them away as no big deal - I mean, I like to fill my days with creative, interesting and active things to do. Its easy!

My friends who have families congratulate me and comment on how jealous they are because I am doing things that either they can't do, have always wanted to do or haven't gotten around to doing. My single friends comment on the variety of things that I do and marvel that I still manage to get everything done that I want to.

I am enjoying my life. I take it for granted at times but I have friends and family that frequently help me to see how wonderful things are. Moving to Seattle has spurred a new "renaissance" for me and I am having a blast - so why not write about it?

Lfe is not perfect by any means. I've had a few setbacks but nothing that will slow me down. If anything, setbacks are just another opportunity to learn and improve and move beyond. Sure - I have my "moments" when support from friends and family are a must. I am very blessed to have all of this and more in my life.

Anyway - why not share? After all - I get such a kick about sharing my joys and even better being a part of or helping someone else find theirs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sometimes, you can really feel the force of change

There's been lots going on for me in the last few weeks and its made me realize that there are times when the forces of change just have a way of lining up clearly so that you can see your way forward.

I love it!

What's changed? I have a new job starting 5/18. My current position is not in jeopardy but its been morphing in a direction that doesn't jazz me up as much. I happened upon this new job posting through an internal job postings blast and within a couple of weeks, found a new opportunity.

The process was so painless - it was fantastic. My new boss and I hit it off right away during the informational interview and within a week of initiating an internal transfer request - I had a new offer just in time for me to go on my vacation with my sister and her kids to Maui.

I've also been psyched at the continued improvement I have with dancing - it continues to provide me with a lot of joy and I continue to get lots of compliments from old and new dancers alike.

Spring is finally here and the days are getting longer - I love this time of year.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Just Imagine!

Sometimes, its good to just let your mind run free without second guessing yourself.

When I was a teacher, there was an exercise that I learned about art that I think applies to anything that we do. It was an exercise that set you up to draw on paper without judgment.

Think about that for a second.
What could you come up with if your mind were free of its "judgment meter": that instinct/habit in your brain that constantly gauges if what you're doing is right or wrong? Wouldn't it be nice if, every now and again, one could shut down that meter and see what the possibilities are? What would happen to ideas that got "canned" because something in your brain just said - "impossible" or "impractical" or "that just won't work"?

Its like a brainstorming session where ideas are presented/discussed for clarity but not judged.

I think that we all need to indulge in this type of activity every so often so that we don't get stale or stuck.


1) Tape Paper to table or drawing surface: you don't want the paper to be moving during the drawing exercise.
2) Look for an object to draw - anything. Take a few minutes to orient yourself so that you can draw comfortably on the paper.
3) Position your pen on the paper to draw the subject that you selected and start drawing.
4) WITHOUT lifting the PEN and WITHOUT looking down on the paper as you draw, start drawing!
5) stop when you're done.
Take a look!

The results are usually an abstract version of the subject that you picked.

What's the point?

Too often when we draw, it is "inhibited" - one keep erasing, correcting oneself, etc. Its better to sometimes 1st lay down on paper what you see without judgment and then take a look at the whole to see what can be improve.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I've recently been reading "Now Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Bingham and am resonating with his basic tenant that one should trust in one's strength as the surest way to achieve the best performance.

There is a test called the Clifton StrengthsFinder and it is meant to be used as a tool to help identify a person's 5 core strengths. By identifying and developing these strengths, one can use these to live a more productive life.

One of the messages that I really clicked with is the one about focusing on strengths, rather than weaknesses. In order to be more productive and to take advantage of your best talents, one must focus on one's strengths.

I think that this message empowers. Focusing on my strengths and getting to know what I am naturally good at and enjoy doing allows me to continue to improve those strengths and use them to better my life.

I am not saying to ignore weaknesses.

Information is power and knowing what it is I am weaker in is also empowering because it allows me to recognize situations where I may not be as productive or "psyched" to be in. Not only that, it allows me to perhaps morph things more to playing to my strengths.

Here are my strengths which I've abbreviated to LARRA: [These are excerpts from the analysis results of the Clifton Strengths Finder]

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day—workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

Describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. You may prefer practical problems or conceptual ones or personal ones. You may seek out specific kinds of problems that you have met many times before and that you are confident you can fix. Or you may feel the greatest push when faced with complex and unfamiliar problems. Your exact preferences are determined by your other themes and experiences. But what is certain is that you enjoy bringing things back to life. It is a wonderful feeling to identify the undermining factor(s), eradicate them, and restore something to its true glory. Intuitively, you know that without your intervention, this thing—this machine, this technique, this person, this company—might have ceased to function. You fixed it, resuscitated it, rekindled its vitality. Phrasing it the way you might, you saved it.

“When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Passion and Desire: What do you want?

PASSION applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.

DESIRE stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim.

[From Webster's online dictionary]

I have a tendency to over simplify.

I believe that nearly anything in life can be solved by a simple approach that I've derived from Polya. I broke this thinking down when I was teaching math in high school because I wanted to give my students a methodical approach to problem solving.

Polya's approach has 4 main principles:
1) Understand the Problem
2) Devise a Plan
3) Carry Out the Plan
4) Review / Extend

Here's my approach:
1) What's the question that needs to be answered?
2) What do you know?
3) How are you going to answer the question based on what you know?
4) Do it!
5) Did you answer the question? If not, back to the top.

So the question to answer for those of us seeking for the ideal life is "What do you want?"

What are you passions? Your desires? What drives you?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


ORIGIN applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being.
[From Webster's online dictionary]

None of what I write here is "new" in the sense that it is my original thought. I'm a big believer in taking what's already out there, processing the information and incorporating what I can. Its no surprise that something "original" can be born by pulling from the existing "stuff" or by putting things together in a different way.

Where did the idea for this blog come from?

As I said, the idea for an actual blog came from my brother in law. Prior to that, I have written my thoughts and ideas down in various forms both electronically and by hand (the old fashioned way!).

As for the origins of the message that I want to share, that origin goes all the way back to the time I realized that I was doing something that, seconds before, I had believed to be an impossibility.

My divorce.

I grew up in the Philippines as Catholic, raised by Chinese parents who were immigrants. My dad was born in mainland China and my mother in Vietnam. The Philippines was a colony of Spain for centuries and Catholicism is not only a religion but embedded in day to day life. "Divorce" was something that happened "somewhere else" - it was the unthinkable. From my parents, I was taught that one works through problems within the family. You deal with the hand that you have and don't "air your dirty laundry" in public. Even though my parents are well traveled and educated, "divorce" for them was not something to acknowledge.

So, up until the moment my counselor asked me "Would you spend the rest of your life with this man?" I had not contemplated divorce. I am a bit embarrassed to admit this but I even had a hard time saying the word! I referred to is as the "D" word.

I remember the session very clearly. That week, after hearing various opinions from friends who had discovered that my then husband and I were having marital problems, I wondered, how long would this process take? He and I were both seeing a counselor independently and also as a couple. I thought to myself, this process could take a very long time. So, I decided to ask my counselor about it.

She and I had been talking for about 3 months by then and my husband and I were also seeing her as a couple for a little over a month. After the normal introductions and "how did things go?", I shared my observation that I could be working on saving my marriage for a long time, "How do I know when to stop?"

She asked me, "Do you see yourself growing old with this man?"


My answer was instant. There was no hesitation or thought. I answered instinctively to the question.

It is the only moment in my life where I experienced such clarity in answering a question that I knew would have a big impact on my life. This moment is frozen in my memory as the turning point of my life.

The ripples of that moment are still here for me, 9 year later.

I was 34 years old and my life was just starting over again.

Getting Started

Finally, after years of thinking about starting this blog. I'm starting it! I owe the impetus to my brother-in-law, CY, who basically reminded me that taking action will result in something compared to just thinking about taking the action which just stays in your head.

So, here goes!

This is a humble beginning that I'm hoping will grow into something much bigger. I believe I can offer advice, tools and anecdotes that will contribute to helping anyone find a way to that "wonderful life". So if you're new, bear with me as I refine my voice and message on this blog.