10 07 2013

This post is a continuation of “A Taste of June: Part 1 of 4“.

Perhaps the most consistent item in my schedule has been my volunteer work with Boys and Girls Club. The interactions have been fun, fulfilling and structuring.

During the school year, I primarily offer homework help and outdoor programming, but these days I have been chaperoning field trips to McKinney Falls, Mayfield Park, Blanton Art Museum and other local area attractions, which continues my streak of going to camp almost every summer for the past ten years!

Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round - Packed in for a Tuesday Field Trip!

Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round – Packed in for a Tuesday Field Trip!

Spotting a Turtle at Mayfield Park Preserve

Spotting a Turtle at Mayfield Park Preserve

I realized that – by virtue of the fact that I operate at a faster speed and take on more projects than others – I expose myself to more ups and downs than the average person.  For example, a couple of weeks ago I was notified that the book proposal that I busted my butt on was likely not going to be picked up by a publisher, but – within 24 hours – an article that I wrote had been published in a Jewish journal with national distribution.  Similarly, I was given a magazine cover the same week that we lost a conservative advertiser on Jewrotica.  And so forth.

The “downs” or disappointments tend to hit me harder than the achievements (which I brush off as par for the course), but I try to take each at face value and appreciate them for what they are.

Planning My Faces Route for the Fall

Planning My Faces Route for the Fall

Someone Wanted to Publish Me.  Sweet!

Someone Wanted to Publish Me. Sweet!

On the note of appreciating experiences as they come, as I was exploring an enchanted forest in the Austin Botanical Garden on Sunday afternoon, I was attacked by a handful of yellow jacket wasps.

At first, I didn’t understand what was happening.  I simply felt that my right hand was being peeled open, as though a metal zipper has been ripped down the back of it. Then the burning began to spread.

My friend moved me away from the area, and we assessed the situation and received care from the nearby office before retiring to a local restaurant for bubble tea (my new favorite!), but I was impressed by my ability to simply process the sensations and pain while staying fairly zen and stoic about the whole thing.

I Love It When My Hosts Prepare Goodie Bags For Me!

I Love It When My Hosts Prepare Goodie Bags For Me!

What else?  I did a bit of paid work in June, which is always a good thing!  I spoke at the annual meeting of a big Jewish Federation in New York, followed by being the keynote at a multi-million dollar fundraiser in Ohio.

This event was notable because it marked my first time being brought to an establishment as a subject-area expert and speaker totally unrelated to my Faces of Israel film project.  In other words, I was not asked to present “the film” or “my program” and the audience didn’t even know what Faces of Israel was.  I was simply being brought in as the expert speaker in my field and, before returning to Austin, I was able to squeeze in a wonderful trip to Pittsburgh to visit my dear high school friends Benay and Rachel.

The presentations went great. I always request feedback from my hosts, and – for the first time in four years – I received some important mixed feedback!  Though my hosts did not care at all, some of the older folks in the community complained that I “came across as casual”.  I tried to understand what that meant.  After all, I had donned suitpants, heels, a nice sweater, make-up and my hair was pulled back in a clipped up-do with bangs framing my face.  So… what is a keynote supposed to wear?  Was it that I didn’t have on any jewelry?

One of Several Living Rooms in the Beautiful Mansion Where the Fundraiser Was Held - Needless to Say, The Co-Op Does Not Quite Look Like This

One of Several Living Rooms in the Beautiful Mansion Where the Fundraiser Was Held – Needless to Say, The Co-Op Does Not Quite Look Like This

I asked my contact for more specific feedback and she commented that she “didn’t mind at all, but perhaps I could blowdry my hair”.  She then mentioned that “maybe there’s nothing that can be done as those people were mainly surprised that you were so young”.  I suppose that looking young is a good problem to have, but spending time with my host populations again highlighted the two diverse worlds that I straddle – one where people live in mansions and don pins indicating philanthropic levels of contribution and one where no one has healthcare and everyone juggles multiple hourly wage jobs.

Home-Cooked (Messy!) Food During My 30-Day No Utensils Challenge

Home-Cooked (Messy!) Food During My 30-Day No Utensils Challenge

The two speaking engagements were the only exceptions that I made to my 30-day no utensils challenge, which I completed two weeks ago.  The first week was mostly a nuisance and I admit that there were times during the 30 days when I was sick of eating with my hands, but overall it was worthwhile and a positive experience.

One Night, I Forgot About the Challenge (Until My Dish Arrived) and Ordered Pad Thai Noodles... Try Eating That With Your Hands!

One Night, I Forgot About the Challenge (Until My Dish Arrived) and Ordered Pad Thai Noodles… Try Eating THAT With Your Hands On a Date!

I became more mindful of the food that I consumed, I ate my meals at a slower pace than usual and I became more aware of the texture and form of my nourishment (i.e. the curved tendrils of quinoa).

I am giving myself a break from 30-day challenges and accompanying restrictions for now, though one of my next challenges may be looking up at the sky each night and holding the heavens in my gaze for just a moment before continuing on with my evening.  I think that will be one of my favorites.

Continue Reading “A Taste of June: Part 3 of 4“…

posted by ayo

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