Lack of Progress

If you’ve read here with any regularity over the last few years, you must be able to tell that things are not as “usual” here lately. While I’ve had bumps and blimps, I don’t think I’ve gone this long without updates in a long, long while. I keep thinking about the site. I keep thinking about my yearly projects that have been collecting dust since June. I keep thinking about the fact that 2016 is coming and how I haven’t made any plans. How I can’t tell if there’s a project I want to do because I don’t really trust myself to be able to commit to getting it done. I don’t feel inspired. But in fairness, that hasn’t stopped me before. I am one of those people who doesn’t wait for inspiration. I just sit and do it. But I haven’t been doing anything. So I can’t be sure that if I commit to things for 2016, I will actually do anything.

So that’s some of what’s on my mind. And it’s going around and around in my mind.

There’ve been some things I’ve done in the last five months:

  • I did 31 More Things in October
  • I’ve done some art pieces, a few of which I posted here and some I haven’t posted
  • I’ve done each of my monthly OLW assignments
  • I have a project from last January that I never posted
  • I created a class I love for Brave Girls University
  • I finished all my December Daily foundation pages
  • I’ve read a ton of books

But I haven’t done my Life Book assignments, I am so very far behind. I haven’t watched my class videos for that class or the December Stories class with Ali. Or some of the wonderful Brave Girls classes I’ve taken. I haven’t processed any of the photos I’ve taken back in June. I haven’t even been taking that many photos. Or at all. And the list goes on and on. And all of this is weighing on me.

This year has been a lot about work. I’ve traveled to Zurich 4 times since last December and I will be going again in January. I’ve been to NY twice. I know these sound nice, but often these trips involve a lot of jetlag and 14-19 hour work days. And there’s jetlag when I get back. And there’s all the other work and life stuff that didn’t happen when I was there so has to be made up when I am back. I’ve also been trying hard to walk 1 hour a day which of course takes time. (Though I’ve been eating badly lately which really doesn’t make this walking as effective as it could be.) I’ve been going to sleep really early since most of my days start at 4:45am. And, of course, the biggie has been working with David for all of his middle school applications which involved a bunch of studying over the summer, a lot of visits to schools, spending time working at nearby cafes while David shadows, writing essays, reading David’s essays. Rinse and repeat a lot. It’s been a busy summer+winter.

But, still. I firmly believe that “I have no time” is not only an excuse but it’s just untrue. I have plenty of time. I know because I spend some of my time playing CandyCrush and some of my time watching TV and some of my time just sitting there because I am so tired. And while some of this might possibly be necessary, I am confident that if I ate well and spent some of my “free” time doing art, I would be considerably more energized and fulfilled. And it wouldn’t take anything away from work, family time, or middle school. On the contrary, it would give me back some of the energy all these things are taking away.

And yet.

Starting is hard. Starting after a long pause is really hard. Starting after a long pause when you’re feeling guilty, and sad, and frustrated with yourself for letting things lapse this long is even harder.

And yet.

I want to break the cycle. I want to start making art again. I want to start updating here again. Writing my thoughts. Documenting my life. Creating things. These things feed my soul. I need them now more than ever. So as we close the year, I have been trying to make a plan for how I can structure my projects for 2016 to accommodate my currently demanding life. The fact is life is going to get harder in the short term. My job is getting more demanding. David will be starting a new school in 2016 which will likely require major changes in our schedules. Not to mention the support and help he will need. Nathaniel will be in second grade and will require support and attention and help, too. Things are going to be harder and tougher for a while.

But I still want to be back in the cycle of creating. I want to find ways to make this possible for myself. So I’m thinking. Does this mean monthly projects and not yearly? Does it mean simpler, more portable projects? Does it mean smaller projects that take only 15-20 minutes a day? What are the projects that give me the most reward? Which ones am I more likely to abandon? How can I balance my wishes around learning new things that are tough for me (sketching and lettering) and doing things that might be easier and more fun in the short term?

So I’m thinking.

I would love some ideas if you have any. I promised myself that I will come up with some ideas and projects for 2016. December has the joy of December Daily so I know I will be creating daily. I want to make sure that once I am on that wagon, I continue the momentum into the new year.

Here’s to hoping.

A Book a Week – everything i never told you

I read Everything I Never Told You because amazon said it was the best book of 2014 and even though I kept resisting it, I finally just gave in and bought it.

Man, am I glad I did.

This was an excellent book. A tough tough one to read but really well written and such interesting thoughts about parenting, families, siblings, and more.

A really thought provoking read and I am really glad I stopped being stubborn and finally tackled it.

A Book a Week – Big Little Lies

I read Big Little Lies after putting it off for a year. I knew it would be similar to The Husband’s Secret and it was. It would be an okay read but nothing to write home about.

When I was in Zurich last December, I felt too tired to focus so I decided it was a good time to read this book. And i finished it while I was there. It was a fast, gripping read as most of hers are.

But my life didn’t really change because I read it.

Alas I don’t really regret it either.

So this one is up to you.

A Book a Week – Doomed

Something about Doomed appealed to me the minute I saw it. I felt drawn to it. This happened a few times to me (like with Parallel) and it never disappoints. It didn’t this time either. I read it fast, liked it for a fun, fast book that i quickly forget about.

I don’t regret reading it one bit.

But there’s not much depth to this book.

Little Bits in October - Part 1

Now that 31 More Things is over, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for October. I’ve been craving doing more art but I have way too much on my plate at the moment. I find myself overwhelmed a lot more than usual and I don’t feel like I can commit to anything regular.

So I decided to try something out. My goal is to try to do a small piece of art as many days in October as I can. I have a lot of scheduled meetings, driving David to different schools, and a trip to Zurich in October, so we’ll see if this works at all. But I figured even 4-5 pieces is better than the zero I’ll end up with if I don’t even try.

Here are a few I’ve done till now:

(my version of this amazing art!!)

A Book a Week – Leaving Time

I have no idea why I read Leaving Time . I had sworn not to ever read another Jodi Picoult. I knew she has last minute twists. I knew I rarely like them.

And this wasn’t an exception. The twist bothered me less in this one. But it was also more of a meh twist. Been there, done that.

And all those chapters on elephants were not interesting. Not even a tiny bit. I felt like they might never end.

On the whole, it was mediocre. And completely skippable in my opinion.

31 More Things – 31 – Water

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day thirty-one – water.

(journaling below)


I’ve lived near water my whole life. I grew up in Istanbul, a peninsula. Spent the summers on an island, Burgaz. I then moved to Pittsburgh which has some mighty rivers. Then, to another island, Manhattan. Spent time on two more islands: England and Japan. Moved right by the ocean in beautiful San Diego. And, finally, I am now living in another peninsula, the Bay Area. Even though I’ve never had the luxury of having a home walking distance to water, I’ve always lived a short drive away.

There’s nothing that can give me the sense of peace that water can. My mom often mentions how she’s used to looking out to the sea and seeing land. In Turkey, when we look out to the sea, we will see other parts of the country or parts of Greece. We are surrounded by Seas but not huge ones. Whereas in the West Coast, what you see is the infinite blue of the ocean. She prefers being able to see bits of land in the distance. I like that, too. But I also like the infinite waters.

When I am in the presence of endless blue, it reminds me of the immensity of the universe. I get the same feeling when I am by those huge redwood trees. They are big and mighty. And I feel so small when I am in their presence. Not it a bad way. In a way that makes my problems seem small. In a way that helps me acknowledge the power of the universe and how I am just a part of everything. It gives me perspective. It makes me feel connected. It calms me.

One of my lifelong dreams is to live by water. To be able to walk out of my house and dip my toes in the water. To look out of my window and see the endless sea. I know that it is unlikely to happen. I’m practical. I know living near water means mold. It means constantly keeping up with things rotting. It means living in the middle of nowhere or being really, really wealthy. It’s not likely to be a reality but I am okay with that.

I am grateful to get to live so close to water. I am grateful to be near so much nature. I am grateful for the incredible weather in California that allows me to take walks by the water whenever I wish. I am grateful for the restorative power of water. For the peace it gives me.

And that’s a wrap! :)

31 More Things – 30 – Ritual

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day thirty – ritual.

(journaling below)

I believe in rituals. Routines. Schedules. I believe in repetitive structures that make it easier for me to do the things I know I want to do. I believe in acknowledging sacred moments of joy. I believe in taking moments to reflect, replenish, and rest.

Because I value these parts of my life so deeply, I make it a practice to create rituals that encourage me to incorporate them into my days in a recurring fashion. Here are some of the rituals I’ve had this year:

- During the first month of school, I woke David up at 5:45 each morning, so he could study for his exam while I sat in my meetings. Each morning, I would walk into his room, snuggle in his bed and hug him to wake him up. We would then walk downstairs hand in hand and he would grab the computer to study his words while I sat to review my email. He has since taken his exam so we no longer do this.

- Every weekend morning, I get dressed and walk to Cafe Borrone for some alone-time. I listen to my audiobook on the way there. When I arrive, I get a non-fat, no-foam, double-shot latte and a warmed up croissant. I like to pour my coffee into a small, ceramic cup and drink a bit at a time. I eat 1/3 of my croissant and take the rest of it to go. While there, I journal, sketch, or just listen to my book. Then I slowly walk back home.

- Every week, for the last few years, we’ve taken a family photo of all four of us. This used to be done weekly, no matter what. This year, we’ve lapsed quite a bit but I am working on re-establishing the practice.

- Every year, I set myself up with weekly art projects that allow me to practice or learn art that I would like to undertake. Lately, this process falls apart during the summer and I have a hard time resetting myself for the rest of the year. But I still love the projects.

- Each night, i grab some tea, a ‘smores bar, and my book and lie in bed for an hour as I listen to my audiobook. I try to sleep somewhere between 8:30-9:30.

These are just a small sample of rituals I’ve created for myself. Maybe they are routines or traditions. Regardless of the wording, I cherish every single one of them.

A Book a Week – The book of unknown americans

I read The Book of Unknown Americans because it was on amazon’s lists again and again and I felt like it was staring me down. I put it off all year and then finally in December broke down and bought it.

And I am so glad I did.

This book is wonderful. As an immigrant, i rarely ever read about immigration and thought this story wouldn’t appeal to me. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s so beautifully told. So sweet and heart wrenching.

Really recommended.

31 More Things – 29 – Break

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day twenty-nine – break.

(journaling below)

As part of my job, I have to take a few yearly trips to Zurich. My whole team is there so these trips are my time to connect and get some work done face-to-face. Even though I dislike leaving my family behind, these trips end up being a break from my day to day life.

I often take the Sunday night flight out of SFO and come back on Friday afternoon. (Though, for this January, I booked a flight that leaves on Friday and returns on Thursday, so we’ll see how that configuration works.) So I am only in Zurich for about four days. I spend most of my hours at work.

But I also get a lot of jet lag. I find myself awake at 2am and I can’t go back to sleep. So during those early hours of the night, I lie in bed and read and read and read. At night, when everyone’s gone home, I go back to my hotel room where it’s quiet and I read some more. When I am finally ready to give up on sleep, I walk downstairs to this beautiful room filled with floor to ceiling bookcases and I eat my breakfast while I read my book. I get a lot of reading done each time I visit Zurich. And it always feels so peaceful.

In the past, I’ve brought things along with me, like books to journal in or watercolors and sketching notebooks. But I never touch them. (Though on the most recent trip, I ended up sketching and coloring my meal on the plane back home.) It seems reading is the one thing I like to do at 2am, 4am, 7am, 8pm and whenever else I am not sleeping or working. It’s something I can do with a lot of jet lag and it’s something that makes me feel rested and centered.

During this upcoming trip, I will get to be in Zurich for a Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Even though I will be jet lagged for most of it, I am hoping I might finally get to see a bit of the city. Do some actual sightseeing. It will be cold and possibly even snowing since it’s going to be the end of January but cold weather and snow don’t scare me. My bet is that they will make the city even more beautiful. And if it’s raining or just way too cold: well I always have my books. I never say no to an entire day of sitting by the fire and reading.

Even though I feel sad leaving my boys behind, I am also grateful for the small break that Zurich creates in my life. A few days dedicated solely to work. And nights to quiet reading.

31 More Things - 28 - Happy

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day twenty-eight – happy.

(journaling below)

Things that make me happy right now:
- Listening to audiobooks while I walk around the neighborhood.
- Reading to Nathaniel in bed every night. I love the snuggling, too.
- Supporting David in his journey. Happy to be able to be there for him.
- Jake’s hugs. Always.
- My Desigual dresses. All the color they have.
- My evening routine with tea, chewy bars, and going to bed early.
- My journal. I love my weekly tracking, my journaling, the squared pages. All of it.
- Greek Yogurt, Strawberries, and Granola.
- Wonderful and comfy shoes my mom sent me from home.
- Good books that make me think and grow and learn more about myself and the world.
- Good friends who are both kind and interesting.
- Paint and art and watercolors even though I am not using any of them lately.
- Giving myself grace.
- Making the doctors’ appointments and follow ups that I need. Taking care of myself.
- New possibilities at work. They make me happy and scared at the same time.
- Old friends. The warmth of knowing that these are my people. That we share so much.
- My parents. How much they love and support me, no matter what. I am so lucky,
- My sister. Her smile, her kindness, her relentless support.
- My nephews. I love talking to them, listening to them, seeing them.
- Nature. Trees. Flowers. Birds. Squirrels. I love them all.
- My 7.5K steps in the morning, looping around Menlo Park and Palo Alto and ending with some Blue Bottle coffee.
- Coaching. I love my clients. I love listening to them.
- New friendships. New adventures. Stretching. Trying. Being Brave.
- My schedule. I feel like I might finally be finding my new groove. It’s not perfect but I feel like it’s improving.
- My hair. I love my hairdresser and how kind she is.
- California. The sunshine.
- My quiet time at Cafe Borrone on weekend mornings. Latte, croissant, and me. Lovely.
- My family. My boys. My husband. These people are my heart and soul. I love them so.
- My life. I have no idea how I ended up having the exact life I’d always dreamt of having but I look around and I feel a deep, deep sense of gratitude for my amazing life.

31 More Things – 27 – Sweet

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day twenty-seven – sweet.

(journaling below)

If I had to only eat one sweet thing my whole life, it would be chocolate. I can give up pretty much any other sweet. I’m not crazy about ice cream, cake, cookies, or candy, but give me chocolate any day of the week. I don’t care for chocolate cake or even hot chocolate, just the candy itself. Especially Nutella or the kind of chocolate that’s hard on the outside but soft on the inside. Just thinking about it right now makes me want to have some.

As part of my job, I now take regular business trips to the chocolate center of the universe: Switzerland. And I work at a place where we get lots of free chocolate and food. This combination, while sounding wonderful, often means I eat way too much chocolate when I am in Zurich. I, of course, bring a bunch home, too so I end up continuing to eat too much chocolate for another week after I am back.

Since I have so many issues around food and my weight, this love of chocolate is always such a struggle. I can never truly, deeply enjoy the chocolate when I am eating it, because, if not during, certainly moments after I finish the chocolate, I feel a huge wave of guilt. I immediately chide myself for making bad choices and not having willpower. Which then makes me want to eat more chocolate. And on and on the circle goes.

My boys aren’t as crazy about chocolate as I am. David prefers candy over chocolate. He likes the sour or the gummy kind. Nathaniel likes chocolate but also likes candy. They both like cake, cupcakes, etc. But their favorite is ice cream. They love most kinds of ice cream so occasionally we walk from our house to Yogurtland and the three boys get ice cream. David prefers Mango and Tart ice cream with mochi and gummy bears for toppings. Nathaniel likes Oreo and RockPops ice cream and m&ms for toppings. They both like sprinkles, too. Jake usually gets different but mostly plain types of ice cream but he likes to add a lot of cookie dough. On the rare occasions I get some, I tend to stick to Coffee or the fruity flavors. Ice cream, like the chocolate, is also fraught with “I shouldn’t be eating this” thoughts for me so since I don’t love it anyway, I tend to stay away from it.

In general, I am much more a “savory” person than “sweet.” I prefer bread, cheese, rice, croissants. In Turkey, we have salty baked goods and those are often my favorite. The one and only exception is chocolate. My sweet of choice.