007 | 365 Transformation in a day

New York City from Brooklyn Bridge

My first day in the Big Apple has made me happy.

This morning was a difficult one to begin with. I was overwhelmed and a little scared of the city waiting for me outside the hotel. Being very jetlagged didn’t help. It has hit me quite hard today and should be asleep now so this note won’t be long.

I pushed myself down to the lobby to fix some things up with the booking here for next week and for a much needed coffee. I sat down with my large round mug of yummy soy latte from the Birch Café and started looking at the tourist map to get my bearings for the day and to work out which way I would head.

I couldn’t read the map. My eyes couldn’t focus. I realized that I was holding the map very close to my face and, feeling stupid and tired, started to cry. I wiped the tears away, finished my coffee and went upstairs to get my act together.

It didn’t take long and I went out into the street and headed to find a tourist information centre in Times Square. I brightened up immediately.

I knew that once I had made a plan and started to organize my day and my plans for the next few days order would prevail.

The last project I worked on when I was with SA Health was a Be Active campaign, Walk Yourself Happy. My friends in Adelaide should have been seeing the ads for this over the last week. Well today I walked myself happy!

There has been plenty that has made me laugh and smile today, once I started to experience the city that is.

Now time for catching up with more sleeping time. zzzzzzzzz

006 | 365 Giving-in to jetlag: it’s not so bad

Hotel TomoThe Gershwin Hotel

Last night I couldn’t sleep, I wasn’t tired until nearly 3am. Then I slept, really, really well.

I don’t remember the alarms going off (bedside alarm and phone) but luckily I had very noisy neighbors this morning. Their slamming of doors and very loud talking (there was about six of them talking what sounded like Spanish) made me wake with a start. I went out in my PJs to see if everything was okay. With all that noise I thought that perhaps there was some kind of emergency.

As I opened the door and asked if all was ok, they took one look at me and all gasped apologies immediately. There was not a peep of noise after that. I must have looked a sight as my eyes were barely open, braless in my red tank top, ginger hair sticking up in the air. Had it not been for them I might have slept all day long and completely missed saying one last farwell to lovely San Francisco.

My plans to spend my last day in San Francisco were decided for me due to the sleep-in. Instead of biking around Golden Gate Park (weather wasn’t the best for that anyway),  or going to the Palace of Fine Arts (would’ve been perfect morning for it), I wandered around my SF neighbourhood, Japantown and Fillmore Street. This began with a big cup of soy latte, freshly squeezed orange juice and a sour cherry pie for brunch at the Grove – my local favourite. Then looking in nearby shops and finding something I had been wanting for a while, what luck. I must admit that I felt too groggy to be doing anything else so perfect morning.

Then since 1pm San Francisco time until now nearly 1am New York time I have been travelling. The flight is just about to land.

Very excited about New York and the new things to see and explore…

Now here, it’s 3am and should sleep. I think I’m struggling with not being on Adelaide time. But I have 2 lovely weeks to get over that. For those at home, it’s a lovely warm night here 🙂

005 | 365 A famous street, two parks, an exhibition and a show

Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition

What was I thinking when I thought I’d walk Golden Gate Park in a day? This park is huge. So early on I realised that I needed to make a decision about what I would see in the park and what I would miss. This was important considering I had gotten myself lost a number of times.

I happened to meet one of the park’s gardeners and she gave me some good advice on what to see considering I only had limited time here. There was one thing she said I should see today as it was the last day it would be on. Everything else would be here next time I come to San Francisco, whenever that may be.  That one thing was the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum (ensuring I go up the tower to see the views of San Francisco while I’m there).

I had thought of going to the Academy of Science but she said come again another time as I would spend most of my time queuing and as it was very expensive, I would probably not get to see all of it.

The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition was brilliant. I am so glad I had that advice, and my visit was timely as once I bought my ticket they had started a queue outside the museum. Then when I was leaving they were going through the line outside saying that tickets were on sale for tomorrow only as the rest of the day was sold out! It was only 3pm. Thank you Sonia, the exhibition was just as fabulous as you had promised!

Anyway, my day began with a walk up Haight Street starting at Neuno Vista Park, where residents fled for refuge during the 1906 earthquake. I can see why. There are signs at Fisherman’s Wharf to get to higher ground during Tsunami warnings. This park is where to head for sure. There and Twin Peaks.

Walking up the Haight, I went past Janis Joplin’s and the Grateful Dead’s former homes around the corner on Ashbury Street. On the way up Haight towards the park, there are second hand shops, smoke joints and record (not dvds) shops.

Not far into the park, I soon lost my way. A kind man asked if I needed help and, not wanting to admit it at that stage saying I was fine, he then casually offered me some Hash. This, the music being played throughout the park and the parties reminds you constantly of the history of this city and its people.

The park was built by the community. San Francisco has no native trees. All the trees and parks across the city have been put there by the community. This park apparently used to be sand dunes. It is 48 blocks long and 8 blocks wide. It has a museum, a conservatory, a equestrian field, two golf courses, bison paddock, Yacht clubhouse, rowing on one of the many lakes and the list goes on. From the tower in the de Young Museum, the view of the park and beyond is amazing. Even with my fear of heights, I was in awe.

To end my day, I went to see the Beach Blanket Babylon revue. This show has been running since 1974. While I didn’t get a few of the local political jokes, it was great fun. I did know all the songs and most of the characters and the costumes were incredible – well the headwear in particular. Google it, or go to San Francisco and see it yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Only half a day left in this city. I am unsure of how to spend the last few moments here. I could go back to the park, hire a bike and see if I can ride around it. That would be great if it is clear so when I get to the beach it won’t be so cold. Or I could take a trip to the Fine Arts Museum down near Golden Gate. Or I could just wander around Japantown, seeing as it has been my home for the last few days.

There is so much more of this city that I want to explore, including Muir Woods and Napa Valley.

What I do know is that I will return.



004 | 365 A city with a lot of heart and soul

Union Square heart - Tony Bennett

This city not only has a wonderful soul, it has a very big, warm, kind heart and it’s beat moves me.

Over the last few days in San Francisco, I have learnt a lot.

San Francisco was a very small town until some guy, who had bought up all the shovels and picks across America along with a bit of gold dust, announced San Francisco as having gold. He opened a hardware shop and made lots of money. He is now known as the person that influenced the growth of the town to a city.

The 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires were significant in changing the landscape, amenities, architecture and community. It brought the people together as a solid community. They identified with the people of Japan after the earthquake and Tsunami and are still strongly supporting them. Across from where I am staying in Japantown, is a peace memorial. On the anniversary of the Tsunami they had thousands of people come in respect and to raise more funds for the homeless there.

If it’s not harming anyone or anything (animal, vegetable or mineral), break the rules – you never know what abundance it might bring.

Don’t tell a San Franciscan that they can’t do something. They will set out to prove to you they can and do well from it.

Don’t mess with a cable car driver. If he tells you to move, move. Ask afterwards if you want to know why.

Don’t mess with any San Franciscan’s rights, even if they are not born and bred here. They will protest!  It’s known for being the liberal activism and led the way with the Summer of Love (an event held in the 60s of free food, free drugs, free love and a free medical clinic within the Golden Gate Park) and gay rights movements.

A number of movies were made/filmed here. And I understand why Hitchcock made Vertigo here. I have been suffering from it since I arrived. Going up and down these hills, even walking, makes me giddy.

It’s not only human rights San Franciscans care about, it’s also all animals, and the environment, the ecology of the world.

It’s a city full of name-dropping. Otis Redding wrote Dock of the Bay in Sausalito, I left my heart in San Francisco sung by Tony Bennett (who has painted heart sculptures that are throughout the city), Full House was set in one of the houses a “Painted Sister”) on Alamo Park, and the list goes on.

On the Left of San Francisco is Silicon Park, where the first computers were developed, to the North is Napa Valley where the vineyards are, in the West side of the city is where you still find pre-quake buildings, Little Italy, Chinatown, Afro-American town and Japantown, and in the East of the city is the new part of town, post quake as there was water there prior to that time.

I saw the first person here wearing a business suit this afternoon, with three others directly behind him. Other than that, I haven’t seen anyone dressed in corporate attire. No wonder I love it here. Not that I don’t like business dress, I just feel more comfortable without it. I can’t see the need or the point. We might as well all dress in blue, with blue body paint on.

It is a city for creative people, writers, musicians, artists, scientists (yes they are creative), chefs, business people and the list could go on.

The beauty, energy and spirit of this place blows me away. I’ve always wanted to come here and it will be hard to leave.

Only a day and a half left. New York has a lot to live up to.


003 | 365 Luck and falling in love

Sausalito, San Francisco

After a much needed sleep-in I headed off to Union Square to get on a San Francisco city bus tour. On the shuttle bus to Fisherman’s Wharf I met an Australian couple, Steve and Dianne from Adelaide.

As it was lovely, warm, sunny and clear, I set off on the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito tour, with a drop off at one end of the bridge so we could walk across and get collected on the other side. I didn’t prepare for the walk across the bridge, which you’re advised to take a wind and weather proof jacket with you, and Steve and Dianne offered me a spare jacket they had brought with them should I need it (not required in the end as lovely weather crossing the bridge at that time). The kindness of strangers continues and really warms my spirit.

I get off the bus at Sausalito to wander on my own before heading back on a ferry. As it’s 3pm and I’ve only had a mini bagel for breakfast, lunch is required before setting off. I treated myself to lunch at Scoma’s where they catch there own fish and is right over the water looking across the bay to San Francisco. I order the Maine Lobster salad and a Chardonnay from the Napa Valley – Sonoma. The salad was delicious, with the best avocado I’ve ever had. Wine was delicious too, “buttery” as the waiter called it.

As I head off to wander around Sausalito, I am in awe of the beauty of this place. I need more time to really take it all in at my leisure but I’m not even half way across when I realise I need to head back to get the ferry. I get to the wharf with 5 minutes to get my ticket and stand in the queue which is already so long I’m not sure I will get on. Luck is very much on my side though. I walk on and all the people behind me are told that they cannot take anyone else on board and will have to wait for the next one (which I think was one and 1/2 hours wait).

I am known for my luck in getting car parks and winning movie tickets so I should not be surprised as my luck continues. As the ferry moves away from Sausalito and gets closer to Fisherman’s Wharf, the fog pours in covering the sea and the city. If I had stayed in Sausalito any longer my ferry ride would have been very without the views. I also get manage to get to the night bus tour just before it leaves as well. Although, it was foggy, windy and cold, I enjoyed getting shown around the city and hearing of its history.

As it ends, I head back to The Grove for a late dinner. I’ve been thinking of their meatballs and the fire which I enjoy with a glass of Zinfandel. I nearly went back to my hotel room to grab my MacBook so I would fit in with the crowd but decide that my Moleskin notebook and pencil will be sufficient. I recognise a song that is playing, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” written by Otis Redding when he was in Sausalito. How fitting!

I’m falling in love with this city and everything in it.

002 | 365 First impressions

San Francisco

With very little sleep, sore ears and a dodgy belly, I spent my first day on “vacation” in San Francisco.

After a quick shower to freshen up (although hesitated due to my vertigo making me a little unstable on my feet), I tried the shabu shabu in Mum’s Restaurant downstairs. That was something that is best shared with two or more as their is so much food you get but prepared just for me due to the kindness of the waitress.

Shabu Shabu means swishing in water I am told. I got a big plate of thinly sliced beef, a large plate filled with asian greens, a couple of types of mushrooms, tofu, two types of noodles, bowl of rice, two different sauces with minced radish and spring onions to mix into it to give texture, and a large bowl of boiling water. You cook as you eat, swishing the food through the water quickly to cook it. Would have been fun to share and take more time to eat but it was very tasty and I needed something like this in my stomach after nearly hours of flight food.

Then I caught a trolley bus to Union Square to visit the info centre as I was told I should get a bus pass. When they asked what kind of pass I was clueless so wandered around the shopping precinct for a few hours. That time wandering aimlessly looking at lovely clothes I wanted helped clear my brain so I could work out what bus pass I needed to purchase. Then time for a evening walk and dinner, something light. I head through Japantown to Fillmore Street. In Japantown and Fillmore Street the choices are abundant and all brimming with customers.

I end up at the Grove on Fillmore. A great little restaurant with a fire going, shared tables, rustic Mexican influenced decor.  Everyone is young and beautiful. Quite a number of people with apple laptops – most on their own. The shared table I’m at even had five power points. My food comes in a thick wooden bowl, it’s a Chinese chicken salad – its deliciously fresh and tasty. In the background Mrs Robinson is playing. Later, Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire. Great atmosphere, great food and great service.

My first impression:

  • My accommodation, not far from Fillmore Street, is fabulous.
  • Some people seem to have difficulty understanding me/my accent.
  • People wanting to speak with me everywhere – I remind them of someone they know or of a client of theirs.
  • San Franciscans so far seem very relaxed, beautiful and nice.
  • I feel very much at home.

Why am I staying only 5 short days?

001 | 365 New challenges

For some time I have considered changing my work and personal circumstances but not felt brave enough or had the confidence to move forward.

For a number of years I’ve felt that I have lost my sense of self and have been in a holding pattern. In an attempt to change this, I have been searching for inspiration to guide me in a new direction. After certain events over the last six months I am now beginning to see the light ahead. I feel that I am now at the start of new and exciting ad/ventures. The spark that had left my spirit has now returned and is burning brighter every day.

While there will always be life events that test us, I have set my own challenges and feel that I am steering myself in the direction I want to head rather than being driven by things that are out of my control. What I have found so far is that, in directing my own life course, opportunities have appeared before me just as I need them. (Is this chance?)

Morale at work was at a low for a number of my colleagues, not just me. Even some of my friends and family were feeling miserable about their circumstances. Living with being unhappy with my circumstances and with no confidence in my abilities or worth wasn’t getting me anywhere and may have been contributing to my surroundings and visa versa. That isn’t a healthy environment.

The first step was to challenge my thoughts and attitude and turn them around to see if I could talk myself into being happy. I began with affirmations to see if this would change my attitude and experience at work and whether it would have an affect on those around me. My first was to say how I wanted to feel, but in the present tense, and to share that with my friends and work colleagues. I continued to repeat to myself that I was confident, extremely capable in my job, and well respected by my colleagues and things started changing.  People noticed a difference in the way I looked. It didn’t happen overnight though. It took ongoing practice and support, which I may expand on another time.

One big challenge I have set upon is starting my own business, Fresh Ginger Consulting to provide marketing communications, brand and change management services. The business is ready to go at full pace from September but first a much needed holiday.

This blog is another of the challenge’s I have set myself, to blog about something that has inspired me each day for the next 365 days. And now I’ve posted the first one, the challenge is on!

There are other challenges I have set for myself, all in the aim of building on that spark in my spirit. Others are already noticing the positive change this is having on me, and it feels great.