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I posted this quote on the On The Bright Side Facebook Page earlier today. Since it received lots of likes and comments, I thought I would share this here too.

— USE YOUR EXPERIENCE – In a world obsessed with youth, experience is often undervalued. But your unique experiences are priceless. They give you many advantages. Cherish them. Use them wisely: at work, with your family, in relationships, in planning ahead.


What’s been interesting for me is that since I have returned from an 8 year stint abroad, I find it increasingly difficult to actually talk about the experiences I cherish, the moments that have changed my life forever and made me the person I am today. All that international travel experience is unique and it is priceless… to me. Very few people in the US can relate to living overseas, and in such places like Japan and Vietnam. It’s a shame, really. It’s those experiences I value the most and have made my life full of value.

Driving in L.A.

Recently, I’ve made a few trips up to Los Angeles to meet with clients and prospects and do some Beaming Bohemian business.  You may remember that I lived in L.A. for five years before I moved to Japan in July of 2002. As apprehensive as I was at the time to move from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, those five years provided excellent career opportunities and cemented numerous friendship and business contacts that have remained even during my eight years overseas.

The downtown revitalization had just begun when I left in 2002. At that time, many folks still drove downtown to work, and went home to the Westside. The reverse is true now. It is difficult to travel East in the evening and West in the morning. Heck, it’s tougher to travel anywhere at anytime, the housing boom even affected my little neighborhood where side streets like Ohio and Sawtelle are no-go’s by 5pm. L.A. traffic has always been, but seems even more nuts than I ever remember.

Even with L.A. drivers being more rude than San Diegans, for example, there are some disturbing trends that would really give me pause if I ever needed to move back there.

1. No one behind you for miles and you get cut off… pulls out in front of you or on the freeway or where ever. The space in front of you is just way more enticing than all the free space behind you. So much so that some folks even speed up to cut you off.

2. The folks that speed up to cut you off when you have miles of free space behind you have a tendency to do so right before an intersection where they slam on their brakes to turn right.

3. At a stop sign when you are angled to turn right, a car will pull up on your left, in what seems an effort to turn left.  But the driver decides they don’t trust your judgement, nor do they want to wait for you and they turn right around and in front of you.

4. Also at a stop sign, and it seems particularly popular during the evening hours, the person behind you will pull up to the right of you and go through the intersection ahead of you instead of turn right.

5. There still seems to be no concern for crossing over five lanes on the freeway to narrowly make an exit that you know the driver takes probably everyday.

6. If a driver is in the wrong lane, it doesn’t matter where anyone else is, how it affects everyone else or how dangerous the maneuver is… it is clearly impossible to just go in the direction of traffic, out of the way for a block or so, make a u-turn somewhere and get back on track.  I saw a guy in the left-hand turn lane on Overland and Pico who decided that he needed to turn right on Pico instead and bolted across the traffic at the green light so that he could go the direction he wanted.

7. The second the light turns green, everyone celebrates by honking.

8. If you do not have a green arrow to turn left, it is still expected that you will turn into oncoming traffic to make your turn. At least that’s what all the honking in the back screams. Nevermind it’s not clear, just GO!

9. If you are forced to park on the street and unlucky enough to not be able to put your front or rear bumper right up to a driveway, you will find that the kind people who have also parked on the street have made it impossible for you to move even an inch.

10. Even when the traffic is not heavy on the freeway, it seems that the general rule is to drive rightnext to the person in the next lane. Match their speed and leave no room for error.

Ten is probably enough. Truth be told, I never use my horn expect when I am in L.A.  It is frustrating, it is stressful, and it makes me glad that I live in San Diego.

What L.A. driving habits have you seen develop over the last several years? Do they bother you or do you just let it roll off your shoulders?

Name Your Restaurant!

It’s been just over a year since I’ve been back in San Diego.  I have to admit, I am still getting familiar with the lay of the land.  Just tonight, someone asked me about my favorite sushi place.  Rightly so… you would think that after spending five years in Japan that I would have staked out every sushi restaurant in the hood!  But the reality is… I’m still finding my way around my lovely hometown.

When I returned, I told myself I would treat San Diego like a new foreign city…that I would take the time to explore and discover and find my favorite spots. While I am discovering new places all the time, I recognize that San Diego is a pretty large city and at that a town I haven’t lived in since I was 19 years old. San Diego has changed a lot since then!

What’s funny to me is that all my memories of San Diego are childhood/young-adult memories. I’m a great tour guide for anyone who has never been here because hot spots like the zoo, Sea World and the Hotel Del Coronado never go out of style.  But my favorite dive bar or sushi place, a hot spot for Sunday brunch or the best craft beers? I’m at a loss.

So help me feel at home, dear friends. What places do I need to discover?  Where do you like to like to dine? What San Diego hot spots do I need to check out? Please leave your comments below or post on my Facebook Page On The Bright Side.

Thanks so much!

Jury Duty

Today I fulfilled my civic duty and spent the day at the courthouse for jury duty. To be honest, I have never served jury duty before. When the papers arrived at my parents’ house, I was either away at college or overseas. There were no excuses this time, I had to go.

If you’ve never been to jury duty, you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing the judge welcome you and explain what a wonderful experience you are about to have.  You also have not had the joy of watching the video which explains what jury duty is and is full of testimonials from people who have already completed their service.

Me being me, I had to write down a few of the quotes.

“Don’t worry if you get picked. You’ll be a part of an interesting process.”

“You need no special training to be a juror.”

“You will use your everyday common sense.”

It was described by one juror as a “deep and moving experience.”

Another said, “I felt good about myself.”

I’d like to believe that the process is all that. But I suspect that if the judicial system needs to go through the trouble of making a promotional video for serving on a jury duty, that the experience is far from moving and the process is not all that interesting.

Good thing I was excused.


Words of Wisdom

As I continue to settle into a life in the US, I have taken the time here and there to go through my boxes.  I’ve got just a “few” in my parents’ storage shed.  My dad would looove for me to take all of them, but I don’t really have the space yet for my high school and college photo albums, those four boxes of books and another handful of what I know are house decor items and treasures from my life of travel.

I do, however, have a couple of boxes which are labeled “office stuffs” by the Vietnamese crew packing my things in Hanoi. I opened one of them last night in search of by zip-lock bag full of markers, highlighters and a wide variety of pens and pencils.  In that box happened to be my old calendars.  Yes, I still keep a physical, paper, written calendar. Probably always will. Do you save your calendars?  I do because I tend to write a lot of notes in margins, write down birthdays and events, sometimes I’ve even use my calendars as daily diaries and have gone through spurts where I write what the day entailed every day.  What I love about saving them is that I can be instantly transported to that moment, that time and capture every memory of that day.  I love it.

So in one of my calendars, I found this daily mantra that I made up when I lived in Japan.  I re-wrote it at the front of my 2008 calendar, in anticipation of my travel adventures that spring.  Here’s the mantra:

Today will be a great day. I will listen, speak and act from the goodness of my heart. I will accept others as they are and treat everyone with kindness and compassion.

I think that’s a pretty good daily goal, and so I’m re-writing this on my current calendar, and on my dandy red notebook so that I may express this sentiment everyday.  I’m curious what other words of wisdom and delightful memories my calendars will lend me!

What are your daily mantras, affirmations or goals?

Goodbye Asia, Hello America

With this move back to the US,  I really feel the weight of my decision to leave Asia.  While I am happy to return and eager for a different kind of adventure, I know that I am really going to miss this extraordinary region of the world.

I fell in love with Asia when I moved to Japan in 2002.  I traveled extensively through that beautiful country and learned to love the green of the rice fields, the change of seasons, amazing food, kind-hearted people, a healthy life, the beautiful culture which seeped into my heart and soul…so much.

During my days in Japan, I discovered SE Asia through Thailand and the amazing Nepal and Tibet trip.  Thailand is an especially easy place to travel and makes for a great introduction to the region. Nepal and Tibet were just teasers for ridiculously unique and inspiring journeys.

And then in 2008, you’ll remember I traveled for four months through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia before heading to Europe.  One only needs to browse through my Travel Blog to learn what an impression those experiences made on my life. I’ve recently enjoyed one last trip to Laos before my time in Vietnam ends.  Laos may be my favorite.

It’s been a very difficult yet very comforting decision to leave Asia and return to the US.  It took a lot of soul searching and I’ve written lots of pros and cons lists and used my own crazy system of practicality, motivation, logic and reason to come to the conclusion that my life will be better for spending some time in what I should call home. I have every desire to stay in the US for a bit, but I cannot imagine a life without travel, and one where I don’t ever come back to Asia.  And I cannot promise that after a few weeks back in America that I don’t freak out and just hop on a plane to Argentina or something!

I leave Vietnam today, and while it is always difficult to close a chapter of your life, I have a sense that a very bright and wonderful future is waiting for me and I need to go and grab it with total enthusiasm.  I’m ready.

On the Bright Side,



About the photo: I chose the window seat for this journey for some reason.  I think I needed to visually depart Vietnam and welcome San Diego, as well as emotionally adjust! ;p


15 boxes

When I was a student as UCSB, I remember very distinctly how my life fit within the trunk and back seat of my Hyundai Excel. Every box and suitcase has its specific place, and I packed the car up the same way at the beginning and end of each school year.

When I moved to Japan, I was only allowed two large suitcases and a carry-on.  At the end of five years, I sent home 10 boxes and took back with me those two large suitcases and a carry-on.

Before I left for Vietnam, I sent 10 boxes ahead and then packed up those ridiculously large suitcases again, for one final trip.  I paid excess baggage fees for having super heavy bags…I don’t know what I was thinking….why did I need all of that stuff with me?  I packed my clothes, but mostly my treasures from Japan.  Little trinkets I had collected over five years and felt an essential part of my daily existence.  Some of those items never even made it to a shelf.

I threw away a ridiculous amount of toiletries.  When I go to Bangkok, I usually go to Boots and stock up on all sorts of lotions and potions, soap and scents, creams and cures.  I’m embarrassed to say how little of those things I actually used!!!

I prepared my items for the movers in just a few days time.  I sorted things out between clothes and materials, artwork, breakables, bedding and then the dishes and kitchen ware.  Five guys packed up my stuff in little over 30 minutes and 15 boxes.  The move will cost me about $2600. (Yeeowza! OUCH!) I’m thankful I have not a stick of furniture!!! I can only imagine the cost then!

One thing has been constant in all my moves overseas…my journals.  These are the books of my life, since the time I was eleven.  These journals are so special to me, they go with me on the plane.  It makes for a heavy carry-on, but I don’t care.  I always feel like I can close my eyes and remember certain snapshots of my past.  But when I spend time at the end of the year to read through a lot of entries, I’m surprised by how little I actually remember. I’m in a constant stage of “Oh yeah! That one!”  So I remember once I’m reading it, but initially I feel like I’m peeking into someone else’s life.

One of my projects when I’m in San Diego (and before I am employed) is to get a scanner and make a digital copy of my books.  That way, the next time I move I can access my writings on my computer and not have to lug a bunch of books about. Although if I do move “for good” the next time, then I may just have to take the colorful stories of my life with me on the plane one last time.

What treasures do you have that you would take on your carry-on if you were moving overseas?


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