Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spending in Check

Before traveling to Italy earlier this year, I took the steps any savvy traveler does and cleaned out my wallet. I removed all crap I usually carry around (multiple cards, memberships, coupons) and pared it down to one main credit card (with no foreign transaction fee), a backup credit card, and a debit card.

I distinctly remember removing my business credit card and placing it somewhere "safe" in our house, thinking, "I'm going on vacation and have zero intention of doing anything professional, so I won't need this baby for sure," and then putting the card in a drawer or something. Upon returning from that trip, I scoured all my usual hiding spots to no avail. I couldn't find my card anywhere.

Part of me thought I should call the bank and report it lost, but the task of updating all my saved payment info and linked accounts seemed too daunting at the time. I was fairly certain I'd find it, and there had been no strange charges that might indicate the card was in someone else's hands, so I just let it be. 

That was about three months ago, and my business credit card still hasn't turned up and I still haven't requested a replacement. Why? It's been the absolute best thing ever to reign in my spending. The card is still connected to my most essential vendor sites, so I know I can purchase jewelry supplies if I need to. But it's not available in-hand for impulse buys, and the effect has been astounding.

My average monthly spending used to be in the thousands, and I would frequently carry over a balance (and pay interest, booooo). The past three months my balance has been zero, zero, and $16.85. Granted I have a good inventory in place and lots of extra supplies lying around...but it's incentive to use what I have and only buy that which is really, truly necessary - using cash.

I won, baby!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Movement

A quick poem I wrote in a parking lot after class at Hipline, about a month ago:

Dancing feels like freedom,
I can move any way I want.
My decisions,
my body.
Feeling grounded for the first time in ages.

In leaving I am growing roots,
to secure my ankles and support my feet
and allow my heart to explore from this base.

Keep moving,
clear the mind.
Don't ignore the body's message.
There is no need to fear the outcome
when following the gut-compass.

Spring sunset as seen from my studio in Point Richmond, with Mt. Tamalpais in the background.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Mexico with my BFF

My best friend Angel and I took a girls' trip to Playa del Carmen a few weeks ago and it was pure magic. Here are some highlights:

Long story short, Angel and I ended up going to one of those timeshare presentations where in exchange for sitting through a sales pitch you are offered a series of "thank you gifts". We also had to pretend to be a couple, which added a very amusing dimension to the experience (only couples with both members present could qualify for the bonus stuff). Lemme tell you, those timeshare people have mastered the art of not taking no for an answer, but we were strong in our refusal to spend thousands of dollars to get the deal of our lives. After saying no to about eighteen different people and their managers, we were finally out of there. Our compensation? Ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres, a golf cart rental on the island, a bottle of tequila, and a major discount on a tour of Chichén Itzá the next day. 

The ocean at Isla Mujeres was unbelievable. I was fascinated by the distinct color lines in the water. What causes that? A sudden depth change? 

Speaking of water, check out this cool outdoor chandelier we spotted at a bar. It is made of lightbulbs filled with water and was suspended from a big palm tree. Totally up my alley, especially because so much of the art I'm making these days is inspired by chandeliers.

A quiet, contemplative moment on the ferry heading back to Cancun. I distinctly remember this moment. I was starting to feel like myself again after many months in a tough emotional state. Something about sun and sand and saltwater cures everything, not to mention adventures with your best friend.

On our second day we took a bus tour to Chichén Itzá, and along the way stopped at a Mayan village to have lunch and swim in a cenote. The Yucatán peninsula is made of karst limestone and is full of sinkholes, caves, and underground lakes and rivers. Swimming in this cenote was just what my body and soul needed. I was one of the first people in the water and had the luxury of swimming around in peace. Being in the fresh water under that beam of sunlight was transformative.

Here we are dying of heat at Chichén Itzá. Back in college I took a class called Mesoamerican Art History and never imagined that I'd actually get to visit the ruins in person one day. We had a fabulous tour guide who was half Maya, and the information he gave us really enriched the experience. We learned about the absolute genius astronomical and mathematical understanding the Maya had, how they developed the concept of zero, had complex hieroglyphics, made paper, recorded information, had a calendar, understood everything about the celestial bodies and seasons. So sad that most of that knowledge has been lost over time...

This wall of carved stone skulls was pretty impressive. Blood and ritual death were major themes in a lot of the temple imagery. I was also intrigued by the Maya's skull deformation practices.

After Chichén Itzá we visited a colonial town called Valladolid. This church in the center plaza was built by the Spanish using many stones from Maya ruins. You can even spot some hieroglyphics on some of the pieces. What a complex, complicated history this region has...

I'm always a sucker for old tiles...these were in the center of Valladolid. Love the colors and pattern, and my running shoes blended right in. 

After visiting the ruins, we finally went out salsa dancing in Playa del Carmen. It was a most memorable night. I danced my heart out on the floor, and even went up on stage for a no-fear YOLO solo with the Cuban band. This is who I am. This is who I want to be, always. Alive, spontaneous, and fun. A free, adventurous spirit. So good to be back to my roots.

I love these cute little birds and the rich colors of the algae and water. Sadly it was a short trip to Mexico, but so refreshing and totally worth it. I am dying to go back. I left a piece of my heart in Playa del Carmen for sure.