Something New, Daily

Continuing into 2012, blogging weekly to stay fresh and thoughtful. Thanks for joining me.
Made with Paper
May 13-17
"During worship at Scyomore today, He called me to worship, to praise, and to just enjoy his presence; in that moment of stillness, I stretched out my hands ever so slightly and He took hold of them and whispered His love for me, His care and adoration.  He has never left me and He will never leave me.  I’m going to be okay in China, in NYU.  There are times when my eyes turn from the prize, but it doesn’t mean I can’t turn back.  So, turn and look at Him again."
More than anything else, I needed the assurance that this is the right thing to do.  I’m leaving you here, my friends and my family.  But i’m not leaving you. 

Take care, and see you on the flip side.  (Email me once in a while!)Ruth 

Made with Paper

May 13-17

"During worship at Scyomore today, He called me to worship, to praise, and to just enjoy his presence; in that moment of stillness, I stretched out my hands ever so slightly and He took hold of them and whispered His love for me, His care and adoration.  He has never left me and He will never leave me.  I’m going to be okay in China, in NYU.  There are times when my eyes turn from the prize, but it doesn’t mean I can’t turn back.  So, turn and look at Him again."

More than anything else, I needed the assurance that this is the right thing to do.  I’m leaving you here, my friends and my family.  But i’m not leaving you. 

Take care, and see you on the flip side.  (Email me once in a while!)
Ruth 

March 16. Decision Making

Hard to believe it’s already March 16 of this new year.  I guess it’s not so “new” anymore. Time has surely passed by quickly, and life has been incredibly full these last three months.  All the things that I have done have been self-centered in some manner - I don’t think I am capable of doing things without any self-interest as a factor…or doing things without seriously involving myself. (how’s that for a vague statement?)  What i’m getting at though, is that although I’ve done all these things that have been seemingly “for me”, I feel as though I’ve actually done them for other people.  Therefore, my latest adventure to London was five days set aside purely for myself…a trip to discover what it means to do just that.

This entry is titled “Decision Making” because it was a major part of my trip. Knowing that the trip is “for me” only, I would always ask myself a question before making any decisions: “why are you about to do what you are about to do?”  If I was going to a museum because someone told me I had to go or because it has an amazing exhibit, but I wasn’t actually interested…then I would stop myself, and come to terms with simply not going.  

Basically, everything I did was about me. Me Me Me. Incredibly selfish. Right?

The idea of being confident with who I am has always been somewhat foreign.  But i’ve realized lately that I can’t fully enjoy the company of others when I can’t be completely myself.  I think the right place to be is at the place of tension between accepting myself and yet not being comfortable with my current state.  For the better part of my adult life, though, I’ve only danced with the latter end of that spectrum.  And it’s now time to start a restoration process.  The London trip was a good first step.  I only had myself for 5 days.  I only answered to me.  

God spoke to me a lot during these last few days, generating a list of conversation topics for us to mull over.  The most challenging task, if that’s appropriate, is to truly enjoy His company, like a child with her dad - without reservation. 

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February 2. Imagine.

Yesterday, New York City experienced lower 50s weather … virtually unheard of for Feb weather.  On my way towards 12th Street and Ave A, I passed by an all girls’ prep school during their recess hour.  It struck me that I haven’t paid attention to the younger generation of people, of girls, in a long time.  Not being so old myself, I suppose that’s a reasonable oversight.  Anyhow, as I passed the wiry fence, I remembered a conversation I had on Monday with some friends about eating disorders and body-image and control issues.  We can’t control many things in life, and in the immediate sense, we can’t control the media and popular culture.  We can control, or at least be aware of and attempt to influence, our personal attitude and outlook.  

On the next block, I passed a photographer and her model-muse, tall, skinny, dressed in  a stunning white dress with a bright red couture jacket…the type to appear on the next urban outfitters, anthropologie, or whatever, fashion catalogue.  

Then, something clicked in my mind: imagine a clothing line that uses healthy and average sized models, and sold clothing that will look good on most average-sized girls and women.  A clothing line that takes a stab at promoting healthy and realistic beauty.  Not condoning the ever expanding American size and lifestyle, but celebrating a healthy balance.  A clothing line that’s not drawing a line between plus-size model and the contemporary thin, but instead, has normal, fit women, from 5’0’ to 6’0’, sizes 4 to 10, modeling the clothing… or instead of using specific height and weight specs, why not use people with healthy BMI or some other measurement criteria to model? 

An idea in its infancy, but driven by a desire to create a better world for our generation and the next. 

I did a quick search on the “average american female” and found many discouraging articles. The american waist-size is expanding, and the fashion industry responds either by exploiting or completely ostracizing the “plus-size” population.  Unsettling.

According to an American Demographics journal article in July 2003:
The average woman is 5’4” tall, weighs 145 lbs. with a dress size of 11 to 14, has a 36-37” bust, is about 29” around the waist and close to 40” around the hips. (source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090107113945AAsaDhg)


Till next time, take care and I’ll give this some more thought,
Ruth 

January 23. Function

How often do I act purely out of function, to reach a certain goal, and how often do I act for the pleasure of the act itself? 

The question presents a binary world, polarizing function and pleasure.  But, as I’ve been learning more and more, there is always a sliding scale between the two ends and the answer really lies somewhere in between.  

Example of pure pleasure activity: going around town taking pictures, I take pleasure in both the process and the end product - but my end product was not the goal, and my actions were driven solely by a desire to enjoy the activity (photography).

Example of pure function activity: drinking vodka soda. (lol. truth.) In the context of going out with friends (a highly pleasurable activity), vodka soda may well be the nastiest drink you can order.  However, it serves the dual function of 1) being lowest calorie drink and 2) getting to the next level of inebriation (not drunkenness, per se). 

Now…what is the gray zone? Food serves as a clear example.  Restaurant Week NYC has turned into Restaurant 3 weeks, with over 200 places offering prie fixe menu’s at (slightly) affordable prices for lunch and dinner.  I’ve taken great advantage of its offerings and have set up many get-togethers in its name.  Pleasure: trying new and slightly upscale restaurants in various cuisines. Function: catching up with friends new and old. 

As I type, I’m starting to question even the first assumption, that this is a sliding/linear scale.  Wouldn’t the sweetest spot be where an activity is purely function as much as it is purely pleasure? Basically, pleasure is to hobby as function is to work.  If that is so, then the sweetest spot would be where a hobby or passion is the work that you do.  So, with photography, rather than keeping it as a pure pleasure activity, by using it for my livelihood as well (and loving it) would = sweetness.  Or, baking from scratch AND selling them for a living.  Or, being a lawyer and loving it. 

I can easily take a hobby and by adding function to it make it sound amazing and desirable.  However, the harder exercise is taking a functional activity and adding passion and joy to it and reaching the same conclusion as above.  Some may call this reversal an “acquired taste” — but let’s not delude ourselves.  Vodka soda will never be an acquired taste.  

The challenging question is why is the reverse so hard? Is it simply a brain-block, a seeming contradiction that we just shouldn’t submit to? Can we truly come to love a functional activity-and not in a way where we brainwash ourselves into believing that we can derive pleasure from it?  

And if it seems impossible now, am I doing something wrong?

I don’t know the answer yet, but I am not letting this question go! 

January 18. Superman

It’s too late for me to become a snow-bum, my body tells me I can at most endure this much pain 3 to 5 times annually.  Had I started snowboarding earlier, perhaps in my teens, I may by now pack up all my essentials and move to Utah.  Haha, okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  Honestly, though, I loved my three days of tumbling and flying down the mountain strapped on a oblong board; and I cannot wait to go back again soon!

So, the title of this entry is called “Superman” which is used in a variety of ways in sports and snowboarding.  Personally, my snowboarding instructor used “Superman” to describe a type of falling, or more correctly, a wipeout.  This type of falling is where the front of the board catches in the snow and the boarder (together with the board) flies forward in the air, arms stretched out front and falls flat onto the ground.  Bonus points if there’s a distance between the place the board caught edge and where the board landed.  

Needless to say, beginner boarders will inevitably fall. To make a long winding entry short, my worst superman fall had a distance of 2 meters from where my board left the ground to where I finally landed - ribs first, then mouth in snow.  Yes, pain.   Overall, I probably had the wind knocked out of me a handful of times. 

I’m starting to boast here. 

Best part of this weekend was learning to celebrate the small victories: getting up after every fall and not letting the fear paralyze me, learning from mistakes, letting the board run flat and faster down the hill than the time before, recognizing my progress with each run and each day of lessons, and finally, making it all the way down the green slope without falling or getting stuck.  

I’m still in so much pain, now two days since the trip, but my spirit is full and joyful.  Baby steps in building a character that doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. 

Baby steps. 

(Example of a “Superman” fall, at the very end.)

take care,
Ruth 

January 7. The City, My Prime, and Me

2012 has been off to a hectic start - highs and lows, fun and stress - reminding me that life should never be tension and conflict-free.  I’ve already made some stupid mistakes, but I can say I now know what it means to be a better friend. 

My goal is to blog at least once a week this year.  So here’s to the first entry.

After dim sum with Cathy and Lucy, I had the chance to just walk around downtown Manhattan and soak it in: its sounds, people, movement, smells.  For four hours, I was alone with the city and my prime lens.  The silence helped piece things together and gave me a chance to breathe. 

Cheers to 2012, may this year be filled with miracles and beauty, and the right perspective to see them everyday.

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I can only imagine the sounds it once made. a nice spot of sunshine in a dreary alleyway

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LES

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Always under construction

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Lighting and decor = 65% of the dining experience

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Theme of the day: “Moment of Clarity” 

Take care til next week,
Ruth 

Dec 15. Vagabond

imageImagine a cold, windy, and rainy day. You’re wandering the streets, backpack heavy laden with books and life’s necessities. There’s no where to go and you are in dire need of a warm place to rest. And then, just as you verge on accepting the prospect of going back into the dreadful law school library, a cheerful cafe owner opens her door and welcomes you in. Mind you, this was not the best day for her…the cafe is late to open because the tenant upstairs flooded their bathroom and water is now soaking through the drywall. The repairmen have just come and gone and left trails of dust and dirt. And still, she welcomes you in and treats you as though you belonged there. She understands that it could be so much worse outside. You both understand. A bit too dramatic?

This was my first introduction to Vagabond, so aptly named. Without any exaggeration, this is the most delightful home away from home I’ve come across in the city. Nestled at the edge of West Village and Greenwich, it is the absolute best escape. And I haven’t mentioned yet how amazing their chai latte is, especially with the soy milk. (That picture of the chai is in my favorite mug…and I get it every time.)  And, Aly, the owner, makes amazing sandwiches with all newly roasted or baked meats and fresh veggies.

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I’ve become nothing short of a regular here since our fateful encounter three weeks ago. It has played a major role in getting me through finals season. I’ve found time to relax, rest, focus on my studies, take breaks to have good conversations with new friends and old, and even take time off to draw! I can go on forever about this place…it’s absolutely amazing: great decor, great people, great music (and live music too), great tea, chai, beer, wine…great food. Let this panorama speak, and let my memories speak… Let me take you here sometime, I would love to share with you. :)

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(my second time here, they had the prettiest flowers… and so I decided to take a sketch break.)

Love it. And I’m sure you will too.
Take care,
Ruth 

P.S. Check out their website; (http://thevagabondcafe.com/) tons more about them there :)