It’s the eve of another New Year, and I’ve just finished writing down my resolutions/personal goals/mission statement. You can read mine here, at the bottom of My Profile page.

Every year, I try to update my mission statement & think about how the last year went. I met my most important goals from the last few years…I bought my own home, My parents got their own home (didn’t end up needing my help, but I was available), I was able to help my sister with dental expenses, I helped my brother start college, and I was able to give 10 percent of my income to charity, at least for a few months.

In 2007, I think I will have the chance to grow the most in the areas of personal health, managing time and finances, and communicating maturely in my close personal relationships.

Cheers & Happy New Year to everyone!

I’ve officially become a San Francisco yuppie! Today, I traded in my gas-guzzling Toyota 4Runner SUV for a hybrid Toyota Prius. 55 mpg, here I come…

New Prius

December 012

Everyone is flying through the San Joaquin Valley for Christmas! Photo taken Christmas morning from Bakersfield backyard.

If I had known I was such a textbook example of what is going on with corporations these days, I might not have left the company! From the book Maslow on Management, an interview with the former director of Apple Corporation University, Sherri Rose:

Maslow told us years ago that there would come a time when people pursured higher level needs rather than money. You spent ten years at Apple Computer in the midst of Silicon Valley where companies struggle to keep talented people. When you talk about helping people grow in the direction of their interests, isn’t this similar to what Maslow was speaking of?

Yes. However, it is difficult to generalize because you have people just entering the workforce who have different needs from people who have been in the workforce for a while. You also have people who have finanical burdens of one kind or another during various stages of their lives where money is important. As one’s career moves up the corporate ladder, the sense of financial security takes a back seat to other needs. In this scenario, I think Maslow was right. In fact, he was so right it makes me think he was much more of a prophet or futurist than a psychologist!

Once people have a sense of security, once they are no longer hungry, all they want to do, no matter what job or level, is to learn and grow. Perhaps my judgment is clouded because I’ve spent most of my career in this Valley surrounded by people like this. However, when people come here to work, they take on very high levels of risk. For example, some of the highest mortgages in the United States are right here. The pace of change and work is frantic and a common denominator which I’ve found with employees in this Valley is their inherent need to be challenged and to grow. I refer to it as a culture of challenge junkies looking to change the world with a piece of technology or an idea. When the core financial step has been taken care of, the biggest challenge is to continually keep employees’ personal interests, their need for growth, aligned with the needs of the company.”

My brother got me 2 new psychology books for Christmas! I think Maslow & I are going to get along very well ;)

“…Sometimes I get the feeling of my writing being a communication to my great-great grandchildren, who, of course are not yet born. It’s a kind of an expression of love for them, leaving them not money, but in effect affectionate notes, bits of counsel, lessons I have learned that might help them…”

~Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970

“Happy is a yuppie word.”

~Switchfoot, Nothing Is Sound

I just finished watching Requiem for a Dream (Director’s Cut) again. I can’t see a game show without thinking about that movie. It explores the range of what people do to be happy in their lives, whether it is eating junk food or chocolate, reminiscing about the past, hoping & preparing for the future, escaping by doing hard-core drugs, having sex, losing weight, or watching television. So is happiness an escape from reality, or an amplification of reality? Maybe both…

We are so complex. Today, I killed a creature in the morning and showed mercy/love to the same type of creature in the evening. Our bathroom seems to be infested by tiny black ants. Every day, I see 2 or 3 of them crawling around the tiles or the sink. This morning, an unfortunate ant happened to be near the bottom of the sink right at the time I needed to wash my hands. I made the choice to drown him, and didn’t feel bad about it. Later this evening, I saw another ant on the tiles and let him crawl onto my hand; I wanted to examine him.

At first, he ran around like mad up and down my forearm and hand but I managed to calm him and myself by chanting “shh, shh, shh” and slowing my breathing down. He (she?) then started walking more slowly and stopped every few steps to kind of sit down and clean his antennae with his front 2 arms. I think he could sense that I wasn’t going to harm him. I was humbled by the complexity and life in the little creature, with his heavy bottom, big eyes, and grooming habits. It was a nice moment. I set him down in the bathtub and left him unharmed.

So when people talk about not killing animals/sentient beings, I always think about the little guys that die every day. The bedbugs in your bed, for instance, every time you roll over, or the hundreds of creatures you crush with the sole of your sneaker with every step in the grass.

So then, what about the tenant that you should never cause another being to suffer needlessly? When I was young, I pulled the legs and heads off of grasshoppers, just to see what would happen. The creature surely suffered for my curiosity. Of course I wouldn’t do that now…but I don’t have reason to. I’m not sadistic; I don’t enjoy the suffering of others. I’m too empathetic, and I tend to easily imagine and take on the pain of others.

Then, I watch my cat as she catches a fly or some small creature, injures it so it can’t get away, then plays with it to practice her reaction timing and hunting skills. When she bores of it, she walks away and leaves it to die.

So I have a hard time drawing the line on this one. On one hand, I have utmost respect & awe for any form of life (especially life/nature untouched by humans). On the other hand, I understand that every day, whether I choose to or not, many creatures will die because I live. I think the best I can do is, from time to time, to take time to honor and thank the life/death that makes my existence possible.

It’s like Khalil Gibran said about eating:

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship,
And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in many.
When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
“By the same power that slays you, I to am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”
And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
“Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyard for the winepress, say in you heart,
“I to am a vinyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels.”
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

I’m glad to humbly & cautiously report that some doors may be opening for me. I got the news of 2 offers on my Bakersfield home, so I’ll know in a few days if that will go through. People are really responding to the last price cut I made. And I had a nice interview today with a company that works on fascinating federal government challenges in security & intelligence (and that’s probably all I will ever blog about that, or I’d have to kill you)! My house sold and a steady part-time job would be the best presents I could get for Christmas. I’m looking forward to 2007!

Random thoughts:
55 degrees and sunny on December 20th, disgusting! Also, felt my first San Francisco earthquake a few minutes ago. Apparently it was a 3.8 or 3.6 centered to the east of Berkeley, so no tsunamis today. My roommate noted that if it had centered offshore we’d probably want to evacuate the island! I happen to know that an ocean earthquake could never produce a tsunami greater than 20 feet tall, however, that’s tall enough for me to not want to stay in my 2nd story bedroom!

I’ve had quite the evening! It started with a Krispy Kreme run with my roommate, to whom I mentioned that I wanted to start advertising my services to local hotels (His reply: Aren’t YOU smart!). When we got home, I took it as a sign in the right direction that my massage table cart had arrived in the mail and was sitting outside the apartment. Newly motivated, I printed up a couple flyers, business cards, and looked up hotels along Van Ness near my office. I drove into the city, circled for about 15 minutes looking for parking, and walked to the closest hotel and inquired at the front desk. The lady was helpful but I didn’t get anywhere. Feeling a little disappointed, I decided to walk down the street a few blocks and see if the new Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, was playing. I was just in time for the show, and there was 1 seat remaining in the middle of the best row of the theater.

Talk about timely…the movie was about making it in San Francisco. It was inspiring and sad at the same time. I loved the line that asked, “how did the founders of this country know to write the “pursuit” of happiness?” My answer is that happiness is a temporary phenomenon, and we spend our lives pursuing it. Every once in a while, we are fortunate enough to bask in its glow, but like the sun’s rays, it cannot be bottled and kept. That’s why I’ve always said joy is better than happiness.

I prepared for the brisk 6-block walk back to my car after the movie. On the way back, I passed one hotel and decided not to go in. Then, I saw another across the street, one that I had looked up online. The crosswalk light changed at just the right time and I felt I should change directions and cross the street to go to it. I walked up past the valet parking, went inside, and found the concierge.

He noticed my black folder and remarked, “You must be working!” I smiled humbly and said yes, and explained my proposition to him. He too quickly posted all my information in the best spot on his desk, and said to me: “We have to look out for each other. In the old days, people helped each other out. People now are just bringing other people down.” It was so kind of him and was just what I needed to hear at the moment. I probably teared up a little bit! He directed me over to the front desk and told me just to make sure it was okay with them, and that he would be glad to refer people to me for massage. I warmly shook his hand and said thank you, with deep gratitude in my heart. The handsome young man at the front desk asked for my card and said he would definitely be referring hotel guests to me. I walked all the way back to my car feeling lighter with hope.

What a night.

If you ever wanted to see me as a dancing elf, here’s your chance:

More interesting articles in the San Francisco Chronicle today. The latest census data showed that in 1977, 79% of college freshmen said that “discovering a meaningful philosophy of life” was their main goal. In 2005, it was “being very well off financially” (75%).

One comment caught my attention: that the baby boomers (whose goal was finding a meaningful philosophy of life) ended up being “the biggest sellouts and hypocrites of any generation. They built the McMansions and bought the SUVs.”

I don’t know whether the author was trying to say that accumulating wealth and owning nice things means a person obviously has forsaken any meaningful philosophy of life, or whether the author knows more than I do about the baby boomer generation’s motives & habits post-college. He/she may be trying to say that their extravagant pursuit of wealth is a symptom of Affluenza.

I wonder, did the boomers become disillusioned in college? Was it after college, in the workforce? Did government or society have an influence? At what point did they give up on pursuing a meaningful philosophy of life?

This is all interesting to me, seeing as how I, myself, am actively pursuing my meaningful philosphy of life. After college, I went to work in an industry that I felt had the most potential for financial gain (and I was very successful – the salary figures for my graduation year showed my degree at the very top on a earnings-potential scale). I enjoyed a high standard of living within a great company. For once in my life, I didn’t have to worry about money–if I wanted something, I could usually have it and not have to think twice. I was able to provide my family with support, and give money to charity on a regular basis. But still, something was missing.

I think it came down to the issue of having TIME for other things I consider important: being with loved ones, exercising, and learning new things. I was having trouble doing all these things AND working/commuting from 6am to 6pm, even with every other Friday off. I still am pretty adamant about my theory that people shouldn’t be made to work for more than 6 hours a day. Working 8, 9, or 12 hours per day implies that you are so passionate about your work that other things can sit on the back burner, which just wasn’t true for me, at that time, in that company.

Although I am young (26), I still feel like I need to spend the energetic hours of my youth exploring as much as possible so I can FIND my passion, and not waste too much time in activites that don’t further that journey. I want to know know where I can contribute the most in this lifetime, and after 3.5 years in the oil industry, I know that is not the end-all, be-all for me.

So it was time to move on, and the tricky thing is that I don’t know exactly what to try next. Opening and operating my own business will give me valuable experience in business & marketing, so I’m pursuing that. I know I can help people feel better & live better, and that in and of itself makes a positive impact on the world. I’m interested in and want to study government & leadership. I want to study psychology. I’m interested in teaching & coaching (tried a little coaching in Bakersfield). I’m interested in raising children and being married. I want to continue writing down my thoughts & ideas and searching for true things everyday. But, of course, I do want to have money too, because money enables one to help others and to do the things one loves.

And that’s all I know today. I know I could never be satisfied with simply “being very well off financially” UNLESS it meant that I could have growth in the other areas of my life, simultaneously.


i’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately. I just left a concert with 30 seconds to mars and angels & airwaves (photos of the theater above). I was very impressed with aaa. they talked passionately about being yourself and taking chances, something I really relate to at present. their sound reminds me of switchfoot, a sound only produced along the california coast. it is a little angst, but mostly breezy, sunny, passionate vocals that dance in and out like waves on the beach and soar up like sunrays reaching into the sky from a cloudy ocean sunset. 30 stm, on the other hand, slightly disappointed. they bring a little too much ‘buy our stuff’ hollywood bs to the shows, and not enough of the polished performance that made me fall in love with their sound 5 years ago. for me, going to their concerts or watching their videos is like having to watch the movie after really enjoying the book. but i’m still enraptured by their music.

i’ve been thinking about global warming. like i’m still waiting for someone to say something intelligent AND compelling about it. oprah said what really hit home for her in al gore’s an inconvenient truth was the polar bears drowning. seriously? no offense to polar bears, but it’s going to take more than that message to change energy habits.

i’ve been thinking about romantic relationships, and why we are all raised to believe love is easy, when everyone knows it isn’t. and wondering why our parents & friends try so hard to protect us from pain, when the truth is that growth only comes from walking through pain.