Friday, January 16, 2009


Fridays are wonderful aren't they! Fridays bring the weekend and a whole slew of possibilities. Tonight a bunch of girls are coming over for dinner for homemade pizza, salad and some TGIF drinks. I'm ready to let go of all the work stress and just enjoy.

I told my friend Sondra that I needed to clone myself. My clone can work all the time, and I can be. I really am starting to think it is ethical. Can you imagine? What a great world it would create some balance.

So I'm going to stop complaining and get ready for my impromptu party. Have a fab weekend. Cross your fingers that it stays sunny and beautiful all weekend. My friend Jen is coming up and we're going snowshoeing, and weather like today would be heavenly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


So one of my guilty pleasures is reading my horoscope. When it's good I embrace it when it isn't as good I ignore it. Sometimes it's completely off-base, and once in awhile it is as if someone is reading my mind and feeding back what I want to hear.

For example, two of my horoscopes in January have said that I need to travel the world and embrace adventures in my path. This was my horoscope today:

Don't just talk about grand trips around the world; start planning them, Cristina. If you don't start saving your resources and reserving blocks of time for your dreams, they may never come to fruition. Today is a terrific time to get these things in motion. Your attitude is likely to be much more flexible in general, and you will find that this way of thinking will bring you directly to the people and places that will help you the most.

Then in a serendiptious moment tonight I was watching TV with my housemate Cheryl, doing some work on the laptop, and reading. As always multitasking. Anyway, Cheryl said do you want to go back to Australia with Rotary? That got my interest. It turns out the Rotary offers a Study Exchange Program for young professionals. I already sent an email, and now I'm going to call the contact tomorrow to get the application. What an opportunity. So sometimes horoscopes rock! I'll keep you posted on this amazing development. 2009 is shaping up!

Writing is fun when it's not a grant

I am a writer. I feel most alive and energized when I am writing and creating. Right now I need to work on a grant and instead I'm getting a post ready for tomorrow. Because writing isn't as much fun when it's a grant. Want to know why?

The top five reasons that writing a grant isn't fun.

Reason 5: You have to write to meet a omnious deadline...which looms and looms.

Reason 4: You can't have a lot of fun and you have to answer the prescribed questions.

Reason 3: If you don't do it well, you get nothing, that's right zero...

Reason 2: You have to use techno-speak and be in the "know".

The No. 1 reason that grant writing isn't fun: You often have to create a logic model. Truly it is as annoying as it sounds. Trust me.

The other funny thing about writing is that suddenly I feel an urge to clean, again this is not really who I am. Anyway, I better sign off and get to work on writing that grant.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What I didn't miss today

Believe it or not I left my house this morning at 7:10 a.m. Many of you think I'm totally lying about this, because you know that I am not a morning person. Yes, I know that is an understatement. I often cite an article in The New York Times to justify my owl existence. It seems the early bird does not always get the worm. Read these articles to find out more. It turns out there are a lot of people who think about this stuff besides me, which is exciting.

But today owl forced into being a lark with droppy red eyes did get to see the most amazing shades of pink, clouds and purple mountain majesty sunrise this morning. It looked like a really good movie set. I didn't miss this moment, because I finally wasn't running late; I had just wrote last night's blog about what are we missing, so I took the time to look around, and notice my mountain backdrop for its wonder.

So I will concede that once in awhile it is worth getting up early. Not every day, but sometimes, because the light is different in the morning. Now I understand why Monet got up early to paint, and why he painted a series of paintings of the same scene at different times of the day to capture the changing light.

Read this article in Time magazine about this unique collaboration from afar:,9171,1573943-2,00.html

"Perhaps the greatest gift Japan gave Monet, and Impressionism, was an incandescent obsession with getting the play of light and shadow, the balance of colors and the curve of a line, just right — not the way it is in reality, but the way it looks in the artist's imagination. "I have slowly learned about the pattern of the grass, the trees, the structure of birds and other animals like insects and fish, so that when I am 80, I hope to be better," Hokusai wrote 16 years before his death at age 89. "At 90, I hope to have caught the very essence of things, so that at 100 I will have reached heavenly mysteries. At 110, every point and line will be living." Monet spent the last decades of his life painting his water lilies, and then painting them again, until he lost his sight in quest of an elusive, transcendent perfection that might best be called Japanese."

I learned this fact on my trip to Australia, instead of bypassing the tour I actually took it, and I learned a few things. For instance, Monet was greatly influenced by the great Japanese wood block print artists Utagawa Hiroshige, Katsushika Hokusai and Kitagawa Utamaro.

You know the famous lilies paintings...they wouldn't exist without the influence of Japanese art. Finding out Monet put in a Japanese lily garden on his property opened my eyes. It gave me a more expansive feeling for Monet and his work. Again, this fact wouldn't be in my cache if I hadn't stopped to listen to the tour guide.

So today and tomorrow, notice the sunrise (if you're awake), the sunset (more likely for me), and take the time to stop and just be in the moment. The truth is you never know what each moment can bring.

And today I want to congratulate my hero, my friend MB, who is full of courage and is about to unfold her own myth and embark on a life adventure. In the words of Rumi:

"...But don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth without complicated explanation, so everyone will understand the passage we have opened you."

Monday, January 12, 2009

What else do we miss?

In our modern and complex world why do we spend so much time rushing and worrying about our level of productivity? It is almost that we're missing the point. We don't take the time to truly connect with someone else. I almost didn't take the five minutes required to read this article, which made me think about 'What else are we missing?'

In one section of this article, it quotes a famous poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

In short, a world famous musician dresses as a street musician and masterfully plays in a busy train station. Few notice, and even less stop to listen or donate a few dollars. Interesting to note, children always notice and hear the violinist, but their parents in a frenzy to be "on-time" drag them away and never allow them to stop to see and to really hear.

The article goes on to state, "We're busy. Americans have been busy, as a people, since at least 1831, when a young French sociologist named Alexis de Tocqueville visited the States and found himself impressed, bemused and slightly dismayed at the degree to which people were driven, to the exclusion of everything else, by hard work and the accumulation of wealth.

If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

That's what the Welsh poet W.H. Davies meant in 1911 when he published those two lines that begin this section. They made him famous. The thought was simple, even primitive, but somehow no one had put it quite that way before.

Of course, Davies had an advantage -- an advantage of perception. He wasn't a tradesman or a laborer or a bureaucrat or a consultant or a policy analyst or a labor lawyer or a program manager. He was a hobo."

What this illustrates to me is that we have to become aware and start noticing what matters. Today I had a lot going on, but I took the time to connect with someone at breakfast and with a dear friend at lunch. I then had to stay late at work, but it was worth the time to truly connect with people who matter to me. In our rush to stay ahead and to accumulate more stuff. We often miss the point.

I went to Denver this weekend to see my grandma in the hospital. My family came out in force, so we had to leave the hospital room and go to the waiting room. It was a moment to truly see that my family showed up when it mattered. We all had other plans, but we canceled them to be present and show how much we care.

So next time when you're life is out of control. Start with taking a breath. Connect with someone you love, and notice what's happening around you. You might witness beauty or help someone else who's down on their luck. And small gestures truly do make a difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ensuring successes

This week started out with a bang. I've already got one comment on my overloaded calendar. I knew that January was going to be a busy month at work, however, despite the crazy month I met with my mentor and revamped my Life Plan for 2009.

It's a lot of work to make a plan, but it's worth the effort. When you set a goal it's just that much easier to meet. I still need to take my plan down a notch, so that I can have small successes that will lead to even bigger ones, per my mentor's suggestion.

I'm trying to make small changes that will lead to results. For example, I'm working on only going out two nights per week, which saves me money, gives me more personal time, as well as makes me really prioritize my time.

In December, during the height of holidays I spent a lot on eating out and enjoying holiday cheer. Now I'm thinking about any purchase that isn't a necessity. This month I'm really cutting back on spending (no clothes-retail); eating out for lunch/dinner (1 time each per week).

I am spending money on items that are part of my plan, such as yoga. As the calendar flips, you can take another look at your decisions and choices. Taking it one day at a time.