the original kStyle blog.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Come Visit My New Spot

I think I'm going to start posting more at my new blog, La Dolce Vita. Come on by.

But keep float in your RSS feed, because I am a fickle dame.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Becoming Italian

Last week, my friend/astrologer asked me what my gift to myself would be for my birthday, like a birthday resolution. I wasn't sure what she meant, so I asked her what hers was (she's an early Aquarius; I'm a late one). She said she was going to allow herself to be free of assumptions. "When I'm talking to people, I'm not going to assume I know where they're coming from, and I'm going to let myself ask questions. Like that mug"--she said, indicating my hand--"I didn't assume it was yours."

"It is," I replied. "I like it because it has sheep on it."

"It's a great mug," she agreed.

So I thought about it some more. My New Year's Resolution ("more time, more money, lighten up") didn't seem quite right for a birthday idea. After some contemplation, some watching PBS, and hearing tales from G. about "The Italians" in his department (there are lots, and they love their espresso) I've decided to be more Italian.

What does that mean for me? It means seeking pleasure in the little details of life. It means being more open and expressive. It means being warm and welcoming--I can be a chilly New Englander sometimes, not meaning to, but it's ingrained in all us Yanks. It means drinking a little more wine, and a little more espresso, and not worrying about it. It means having friends over for dinner more often. It means cooking up a storm, kicking up my heels, spending some money on looking sharp (which I've been doing well with already), and enjoying. It means defining myself first as myself and not as a worker or doer.

And it means not hiding. Ever since I began working, I've been cramming myself into a little cubicle-shaped mold and trying to be inconspicuous. If you are conspicuous, you get more work dumped on you. If you are conspicuous, you might be seen as being showy, having to little to do, and being a bad worker bee. I've decided to be conspicuous again. I've shrunken myself enough.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Out of Hand

Social networking sites: Please stop!

Turning Over Stones

Even while applying for jobs, I'm taking a few steps back and reevaluating everything: interests, career options, personality assessments. Why not? Maybe I'm missing something obvious.

Taking the Strong Interests Inventory this morning, I realized (again) how much I miss having the arts in my life. Not the healing arts--the arts. Of course, the immediate rebound thought is: There's no way to make a living in the arts. And maybe that's true.

Here's a funny story. I went to college planning to major in theater. But once I got there, I found the theater department to be pretentious and so so postmodern. In the bad way.

I couldn't decide on a major. Then one day, thumbing through the course catalog, I realized that I wanted to take every single class printed on 3 consecutive pages. What department is this? I asked myself. It was Classical Civilization (CCIV), the study of the Greeks and Romans.

Now, I had heard my mom talking on the phone to her friends, saying: "K. wants to me a theater major. We're hoping she meets some handsome econ major and he changes her mind." So I knew that my parents would really be quite happy if I abandoned my theater dreams.

I came home over break, excited to break the news. "I've decided not to major in theater!" I announced. My folks burst into wide grins. Their eyes lit up. "What will you study?" they asked. "Classical Civilization!" I proudly announced.

Their faces fell. This is not what they had in mind. A pause, then a single question: "What's that?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Endangered Word List

Sadly, today I must add another word to the EWL. I'm giving it "threatened" status, in the hopes that with education and awareness we can turn its fate around before it becomes officially endangered. Here is the word with its proper definition (as written by moi).

Simplistic--adj.--overly simple, usually used pejoratively.

Simplistic does not mean "simple" or "very simple". It means that something is simple to the point that important detail is lost. Wiktionary also notes that the phrase "overly simplistic" is a tautology.

I have no idea how this innocent word has wound up so used and abused, as it would seem to be a rather unusual target for mass manhandling. It is with sorrow in my heart that I place it with its brethren "literally" (recently removed from "Endangered" status, but still "Threatened") and "unique " (which has been beaten within a tautology of its life).

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I've been doing a fair amount of self-analysis and fact-finding in order to determine what sort of career would suit me--and make some money.

The upshot is, I have a more mature understanding of careers, myself, and job description lingo than I did when I was last intently job-searching; therefore, I'm becoming terribly excited about job descriptions that would have sounded completely dull to me six years ago.

I'm swooning over phrases such as: "to work collaboratively [work collaboratively!--dreamy sigh] with colleagues to develop projects"; "develop systems and processes"; "collaboratively develop content for and implement short courses"; "marketing of fund-raising initiatives"; "write and integrate"; "plan, organize, and implement".

See, at Day Job, I have no say. Here are the specs--make a book according to them! I like organizing stuff, but it looses all its juice when I have no voice and no creative control. I need to be allowed to innovate, collaborate, and integrate. My colleagues in my department are wonderful craftspeople of books. They enjoy the process of molding a project to its specifications, making it well. I am a different species, and I admire their work, but I will never love doing it myself.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What I Bought

I will be 30 a month from today, and I need a real wardrobe. A wardrobe that looks professional. I made a big dent in that today, with one massive shopping excursion. It was tiring, yes, but there are some good sales (even lower than the Internet sale prices). And now I am well on my way to my goal of a good set of clothes based on taupe and grey neutrals with pink, cream, and purple accent colors.

Here's what came home in the bags (color shown on link may not match the color I purchased):

grey blazer, brown blazer, pink sweater, purple sweater, classic white shirt, dressy-hippie cream-colored shirt, casual pink shirt, cute socks, and supportive bras.

And, on order: camel herringbone pants, to go with the brown blazer.

The bras were ludicrously expensive, but they did make the sweaters look better. A good bra can give the illusion of losing 10 pounds instantly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Two Perfect Meals

breakfast: slightly sweet and chewy homemade bread one friend gave me, toasted and enjoyed with butter, a hint of salt, and homemade apricot chutney another friend gave me. The bread and chutney were meant to be, and I am so grateful that they found each other and me.

dinner: pressure-cooker lamb and white bean stew, a la Jacques Pepin. I have never seen lamb fall apart at the lightest touch of a spoon before. Amazing. And, only one pot to clean. J'adore Jacques!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

ack, clothes

I'm not a great clothing shopper. Clothes shopping awakens the inner 6-year-old me being dragged through the store by my mom.

...Can't we go to the bookstore now? Or spend that money on a vacation?

I used to rely on Grandma's annual clothing infusions at Christmas, but now she is older and just sends money. I have about 3 outfits, and they are all the same uniform: slacks, long sleeve tee, ancient pilled sweater that has outlasted its proper TJ Maxx lifespan, Earth shoes. (At least the shoes are snazzy.)

But suddenly I am faced with clothes shopping. I have all these talks lined up with alumni from my alma mater who rank high in their nonprofit organizations. I'm visiting their offices, and I don't want to look like I'm still in college.

I've figured out that I should find a dressy-but-not-formal outfit, such as white shirt, slacks, blazer. An outfit that says, "I am professional and put-together, and although I know and respect that this is not a job interview, it could be one in the near future, at which point I will be astute enough to wear a dark suit, but not before then."

But, damn!, professional clothing is expensive. It's no wonder I don't have any.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Years Resolutions

(with a nod to Ann)

I keep them simple. I always forget what they were, anyway. This year, I have crafted something resembling a Resolution Haiku:

More Time
More Money
Lighten Up

Too Much Snow.

Enough is enough, already.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A few things I like

mild January days
The Waltz of the Flowers
free museum passes from the library
saag paneer
essential oils

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And now, a pause for the Heart Sutra

(I encourage you just to read through and enjoy a few times, allowing the meaning to settle in your heart, before following the links.)

as translated in Chanting from the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village

The Heart of Understanding

The Bodhisattva Avalokita,
while moving in the deep course of Perfect Understanding,
shed light on the Five Skandhas and found them equally empty.
After this penetration, he overcame ill-being.

Listen, Shariputra,
form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.
Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form.
The same is true with feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

Listen, Shariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness.
They are neither produced nor destroyed,
neither defiled nor immaculate,
neither increasing or decreasing.
Therefore in emptiness there is neither form, nor feelings, nor perceptions,
nor mental formations, nor consciousness.
No eye, or ear, or nose, or tongue, or body, or mind.
No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind.
No realms of elements (from eyes to mind consciousness),
no interdependent origins and no extinction of them
(from ignorance to death and decay).
No ill-being, no cause of ill-being, no end of ill-being, and no path.
No understanding and no attainment.

Because there is no attainment,
the Bodhisattvas, grounded in Perfect Understanding,
find no obstacles to their minds.
Having no obstacles, they overcome fear,
liberating themselves forever from illusion, realizing perfect nirvana.
All Buddhas in the past, present, and future,
thanks to this Perfect Understanding,
arrive at full, right, and universal enlightenment.

Therefore one should know
that Perfect Understanding is the highest mantra, the unequaled mantra,
the destroyer of ill-being, the incorruptible truth.
A mantra of Prajnaparamita should therefore be proclaimed:

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sea Change

I quit the spa. I couldn't take the lack of free time. But I appointed my successor, and I offered to train her. I've quit in the noblest possible way.

In truth, I'm contemplating closing up shiatsu shop and moving to an entirely different field. I love the business end--the strategizing, writing the marketing, vision statements and mission statements--but I'm tired of doing the actual shiatsu. But we'll see.

I'm lining up fact-finding missions: talking to people in nonprofit management to see what it's like and how one gets there. Two out of three contacts I found through my alumni network have already responded, happy to have coffee and tell me about their work. And a friend of my father is the CEO of a large nonprofit; my dad will call him to ask if I may talk to him, too.

What am I missing? I realized, thanks to working with a fabulous life coach (we trade), that I need to be more intellectually stimulated.There's a limit to my right-brained-ness. I'm incredibly analytical and need to use that part of myself. And I need to learn new things, whereas now I'm merely practicing things I've already learned. Practice is good, it lets one get into depth, but I feel I've probed pretty deep into shiatsu and book production, and I'm bored.

I also want time again. Time to devote to being wildly creative. I always had the creative arts in my life until I forsaked them for the healing arts. For the last 5 years, all my spare time, energy, and money has been in pursuit of shiatsu (and tai chi/yoga classes to support the shiatsu). And I'm sick of it, really. I want to learn ceramics or brush calligraphy, to dance as much as possible, and to accept that I've healed whatever I wanted to heal in myself, and helped heal a few others, and that's good. Good enough.