Category Archives: Musings

I am from…


Where are you from?

Close your eyes and think back to your childhood home or somewhere you felt safe as a child – picture yourself there – think about what you are doing, seeing, and hearing. What toys are you playing with?  What will you be eating for dinner?  What sounds do you hear?

I recently did this visualization and then completed a fill-in-the-blanks poem (Mad Libs style) entitled “I am From”.  The task was during a meeting I am on the Board of Directors for – Girls on the Run, Utah.  GOTR is a 12-week after-school youth empowerment program for 3-8th grade girls that inspires them to be joyful, healthy, and confident, and weaves in practice for a 5K run. The poem will be included in our coaches training.  We want the coaches to think back to their childhood and try to put themselves in the shoes of the girls we teach.  We want to help them remember what it is like to be 8 – 13 years old, with all the hopes and dreams, strength and vulnerability, concerns and joy that comes with it.

After closing our eyes and taking ourselves back to our past, we were given 5 minutes of quiet to complete our poems. Then we read them aloud to the group. We smiled as we recognized similarities of people having played with the same toys as us, enjoyed the same food, or partook in similar family traditions. We absorbed the information and learned a little more about each other, where we came from, and what makes us unique.  As I read my poem I felt a lump in my throat, and it seemed many of the others experienced the same reading theirs. The poem transported us back in time to the children we once were.  

I believe the idea to include the poem in the coaches training stemmed from a poem written by George Ella Lyon called ‘Where I am From”, which can be read here.  Many people have taken this poem to write their own versions you can read one here and here. (The final link includes a template to write your own).

I was touched by writing my poem, so I expanded mine to include more memories and experiences.  It was fun to recall these childhood memories with my parents, siblings, and friends.  The poem could make a great gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day.  I would love to read similar poems written by people I know.  Why don’t you have a go at writing your own? Where are YOU from?

“I Am From” by Lydia Kluge 

I am from a red brick house with black Tudor beams,
from a garden filled with bright flowers, fruit bushes, and a roaming tortoise,
I am from a magnolia tree with soft white and pink petals,
whose limbs and branches felt so familiar as we climbed and swung from them,
and from a silver birch in which my Dad built us a tree-house, with small rectangular steps and rope handrails.

I am from furry teddy bears and comforting muslin cloths called ‘fluffies’,
from playing on our slide, climbing-frame, and swing-set,
(on summer’s evenings in pajamas after bath-time – just a little longer before we go to bed),
I am from blue plastic billy bumpers, from trikes, bikes, and roller-skates – round and round on the concrete path,
from shiny conkers and piles of crisp fallen leaves,
and from my Dad mowing the lawn with his push mower.

I am from laughter, conversations, bike bells, and cat meows,
from revving engines and shiny cars,
I am from Bob Marley’s reggae, Motown, and popular hits – cheerful music filling the kitchen,
from my Mum singing as she returned from work and cooked us meals,
and from dancing with my sister in front of the TV to the weekly edition of ‘Top of the Pops’.

I am from summer camps and guide camps, new activities and sleeping in tents,
from bunk beds and bed time stories – our Mum sitting in a chair by our side,
I am from homework and solving problems, from paper-rounds and black ink covered fingers,
from family bike rides and walks at Nonsuch park, collecting pine-cones for my Granny’s fire,
and from finishing each activity with a warm cup of tea.

I am from Christmas meals with lots of dishes and even more people,
from warm buttered crumpets, pasta (my brother’s favourite), and roasts every Sunday,
I am from my Grandmother’s crispy potatoes and my Grandfather catching our hand in his,
from home-grown fruits and vegetables, lovingly peeled and chopped, and made into crumbles or homemade ice-cream,
and from playing board games and cards after dinner with family and friends (my competitive nature coming out).

I am from school uniforms – grey striped ties and navy checked kilts,
from shiny red gym shorts winning relay races,
I am from crossing a road with a friendly lollipop lady and running for green buses,
from driving to see relatives – summers with our Aunt and Uncle: country walks, dogs, piano,
and fun at the beach with our Cousin – sandcastles, donkey-rides, Granddad’s tricks and Nana’s fig tree.

I am from Sherwoods and Knights,
from travel overseas and seeking adventure (torpedoed boats, new jobs, new lives),
I am from hardworking and tenacious, stoic and strong,
from make do and mend, and humble and selfless,
and from morning cheeriness  “Wake-up girls, it’s a beautiful new day!”

I am from too sensitive and curbing my teenage quick tongue & temper,
from learning, growing, thinking, and reflection,
I am from a family who is kind, loving, welcoming, and tall,
from “The more the merrier” – shared meals and bringing people together,
and from these moments when family and friends become one.




The sight of the wildflowers in the Wasatch Mountains in July is breathtaking.  Fields of purple lupine, golden daisies, and Indian paintbrushes in orange, pinks, and reds, line our path.  We make a fast ascent, scrambling up the steep incline, dislodging the occasional rock or scree with our feet and hiking poles.  We are wary of ominous looking clouds lurking in the sky, our skin waiting for the touch of cool raindrops alerting us to the weather; wanting to reach the summit before potential afternoon thunderstorms. I stop every now and then to catch my breath and take in the beautiful vistas that surround us.

As we near the peak, we reach a field of boulders clinging to the spine of the mountain, covered in eye-catching lichen of amber, rust, sage, and lime green.  I watch Jeff skip effortlessly and fearlessly from rock to rock like a mountain goat, determined on his path, and eager to reach the summit.  I pick my path a little more gingerly.  I sometimes slow, considering my route more carefully, wary of getting hurt. Or I pause to watch Jeff, admire the view, think, be in the moment, and take it all in.  Sometimes however, I push myself more than I think I can, taking large bounds and using my long legs, a smile spreading on my face as I land safely, my confidence growing.

I think about how many people have summited this mountain, but no two people have taken exactly the same route; each of us choosing our own unique path.   It leads my mind to the comparison of this hike with life’s journey.  The approach of my husband and I in line with our personalities.  We are all on our own unique paths in life, nobody’s journeys the same.  Sometimes our paths cross, or linger, running side-by-side, and we revel in the beauty of these shared moments with each other.  Other times they diverge, as we forge our own path, growing, learning, developing, moving forwards.

Two quotes I read recently resonate with my thoughts and I want to share them with you.  The first is from a wonderful book ‘Empowered’ by Jenny Powers.  She shares:

“Carve Your Own Path.  On days like today, following the crowd feels so much easier to me.  Because there is a level of certainty in the crowd and in the numbers of people that surround me.  In a crowd, I am never alone.  But when I walk in a crowd, I am never the first to discover anything new.  I am never the first to discover something unique.  I am never the first to discover something that I can call my own.  There is such passion to be found in discovering my own.  So I will leave the crowd and I will set out on my own.  And I will continue to carve the path in front of me, for as long as it takes for me to get to my own.  When confronted with choice, decide to leave the crowd.  Set out on your own.  Carve your own path through this world.  It is how you will find the gold in undiscovered lands.”

I also read this quote from the Dalai Lami this week, which I want to share:

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road does not mean they are lost.” – Dalai Lama XIV

Be brave.  Forge ahead.  I respect your own unique path and I cherish the shared moments with you.  I wish you fulfillment and happiness on your journey.


My photos from our hike last Saturday in the Wasatch Mountains.  We summited ‘10,420’ and ‘Clayton’s Peak’ (10,721 ft).  I am so grateful to  be surrounded by such beauty where I live and to get out and enjoy it.

The view from Guardsman Pass - wildflowers in the foreground and vistas and mountains beyond.

The view from Guardsman Pass – wildflowers in the foreground and vistas and mountains beyond.

Jeff at the summit of Clayton's Peak 10,721 ft.

Jeff at the summit of Clayton’s Peak 10,721 ft.

At the top of Clayton's Peak (10,721 ft) with the summit marker / lightning rod! Amazing views. You can see 6 ski resorts from this point.

At the top of Clayton’s Peak (10,721 ft) with the summit marker / lightning rod! Amazing views. You can see 6 ski resorts from this point.

Views from Clayton's Peak looking South-West towards Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird ski areas. (We had to pay attention to potential mountain thunderstorms, so we descended from the summit pretty quickly).

Views from Clayton’s Peak looking South-West towards Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird ski areas. (We had to pay attention to potential mountain thunderstorms, so we descended from the summit pretty quickly).

View from Clayton's Peak looking east towards Lackawaxen Lake and Silver Lake.

View from Clayton’s Peak looking east towards Lackawaxen Lake and Silver Lake.

The lichen on the boulders at the summit was eye-catching in amber, rust, sage and lime green colors.

The lichen on the boulders at the summit was eye-catching in amber, rust, sage and lime green colors.

Determined wildflowers growing between the rocks (daisies, columbine, etc.).

Determined wildflowers growing between the rocks (daisies, columbine, etc.).

Pretty purple lupine line our path.

Pretty purple lupine line our path.

Jeff descends through fields of wildflowers.

Jeff descends through fields of wildflowers.

Various shades of Paintbrush (Castilleja) from pink-red to orange-red brighten the area.

Various shades of Paintbrush (Castilleja) from pink-red to orange-red brighten the area.

A field of mauve daisies.

A field of mauve daisies.

Daisies alongside an alpine river.

Daisies alongside an alpine river.

We pass through meadows of interesting plants.

We pass through meadows of interesting plants.

We end up by the beautiful Bloods Lake.

We end up by the beautiful Bloods Lake.

A wonderful hike and opportunity to think, breathe, and connect with Jeff, myself, and nature.

A wonderful hike and opportunity to think, breathe, and connect with Jeff, myself, and nature.

Pearls of Wisdom

We have all garnered skills, character traits, and pearls of wisdom during our experiences, successes, and challenges in life.  We all possess valuable truths inside of us.  No matter what our job, background, or social status, our knowledge and truths are important.  I believe it is vital to share our truths with others and as essential to listen to them from others.  Sharing, teaching, listening, being open-minded, and learning, is how we connect as individuals and how we grow and mature on our journey in life.

I had a significant sharing and learning experience earlier this year, during a trip with my spouse through Corporate AllianceCorporate Alliance is an organization who helps people create and manage successful business relationships.  CEOs, COOs, presidents, and owners of companies, and their respective spouses, attended the trip.  We had a memorable time, with a valuable service project aspect (which I wrote about here) and some great ‘getting to know you’ activities and opportunities.

One could have felt daunted surrounded by the company of such highly successful and driven individuals.  Fortunately, however, I did not.  This may have been partly because my companions did not look intimidating, the relaxed dress code calling for shorts and t-shirts.  The service project aspect of the trip certainly helped too; standing shoulder-to-shoulder, covered in sweat and paint, alongside an individual is a sure way to create a level playing field.  It was also due to my philosophy of treating and valuing people equally, no matter who they are or what they do, and thus my motives, or lack thereof, behind my interaction with the other attendees.

This brings me to one of the beauties of this trip.  One of the key ethos at Corporate Alliance, and one I have always strived to follow, is to avoid relationship arrogance.  This is such a powerful and worthwhile concept to me, I want to share it with you.  Relationship arrogance is to have ulterior motives in relationship development.  It is prioritizing relationships based on a forecasted return on investment, i.e., figuring out whom we perceive to be the most beneficial people to interact with, and pursuing those relationships.  Relationship arrogance is to dismiss those who we do not consider worthwhile to us.  This can happen in business, but just as easily when interacting with others on a social level too e.g. other parents at your child’s school, adults in clubs/groups, those who serve us at restaurants, sit next to us on public transport, etc.  Is judging or preconceiving relationships something you do?

To avoid relationship arrogance is to treat everyone with respect and as someone who is important.  I believe that when we interact with people they can feel if we have an ulterior motive.  It is more real to interact with people on the pure basis of kindness, friendship, and common human decency.  It feels good to both parties.  In the book City of Influence: A Business Tale, written by Corporate Alliance founders Jared & Sarah Stewart, they share “The way you judge people affects your ability to build a relationship with them, and it’s arrogant to make assumptions before having any meaningful interaction.”  If you make your interactions genuine and with good intent, you will be surprised where it takes you.  You can often find help and support from the least expected of people.

Another important takeaway is developing relationships ‘just because’– also a core value of the Corporate Alliance organization.  The President of Corporate Alliance’s Salt Lake City hub, Katie Holland, shared a wonderful story with us, which demonstrated relationships ‘just because’.  The story is based on author Kent Nerburn’s experience as a cab driver, and a particularly special journey taking an elderly woman to hospice.  It is a touching tale and reminds me to be gracious and giving to all whom I come across.  Read it here:

As the trip progressed, I heard other stories and pieces of advice from my companions that I thought were worth noting.  One of these was to be present in the moment.  In today’s society, I feel this is ever more important.  There are so many distractions, one can be sucked away from real face-to-face interactions, into virtual/electronic worlds (social media, gamming, TV, etc.).  We can forget the importance of those around us.  Being on the receiving end of this can make you feel invisible and worthless.  There have been some great impactful short videos recently to remind us to ‘disconnect to connect’ and ‘look up’ (I urge you to watch them here and here).

I remember as a child my mum insisted if we wanted to speak to her that we stop what we were doing, and come to talk to her face-to-face; we were never allowed to shout to her from elsewhere in the house.  I am glad she did this, it shows respect, and that we find the other person important.  During the Corporate Alliance trip partners working both within and outside of the home, shared with me that they remind themselves of the importance of being present with each other and with their children and loved ones.  They leave work at the door or leave chores until later, and fully engage with each other.  I personally know it feels so great to be on the receiving end when someone gives you his or her full attention, so this is something I strive to give too.

This leads me on to another perspective shared, that multitasking is overrated.  Often the ability to get several things done at once is considered a positive trait.  Women are said to be better multi-taskers.  Parents often rely on it to get everything done that they need to do during the day.  However, when multitasking, are we doing everything to the best of our ability?  On the trip, one CEO shared with us that he asks potential employees if they are good at multitasking, and if they say “yes,” then they might not find themselves employed by his company.  He shared an example of someone who tries to write the alphabet and a sequence of numbers 1-26.  If we do this separately, we could do it quickly; however, if we tried doing both tasks and alternating between one letter and one number, it would slow us down considerably.

I also read a book recently called Rewired by Camille Preston (which I would highly recommend).  In her book, she discusses the downside of multitasking and loss of productivity.  I concur personally with her words, that when we start a task and another sidetracks us, the interruptions can cause a significant delay in getting back to being fully productive in the original task.  She shares the results of a survey, which shows how multitasking costs the economy billions of dollars a year.  Having the diminished performance and loss of focus in multitasking pointed out to me, it has changed my original notion of it being a positive skill.  Preston advocates being present in the moment and recommends that we are mindful, that we ‘unitask’, and focus on one thing at a time.

The final pearl of wisdom that I want to share is aligning your principles (beliefs) and actions (behavior).  A friend I met on the trip shared this concept with me and that you could consider it in a venn diagram (which I love being a Econ/Math major).  On the one side you have your beliefs and on the other your behaviors.  When these overlap and we act according to our principles, then there is unity, we are in balance/compliance and experience joy.  However, when our behavior falls outside our beliefs, there is not.

Venn Diag






I like this concept.  It resonates with my heart.  I have personally experienced it.  I know if I act and behave (in the way I talk to and treat people, the way I approach situations, etc.), according to my beliefs, then I feel good.  I am joyful.  If I do something out of line with my principles, then I do not.  Do you make sure your behavior aligns with your beliefs?

As I reflect on these pearls of wisdom, it reminds me of many things.  It reminds me of the importance of relationships, to value them and to approach new ones with an open heart and mind; it reminds me to be mindful, present, and focused on who I am with or what I am doing; and it reminds me to act according to what I believe to be right and true.

I am so grateful to have been part of the experience with Corporate Alliance, for the opportunity to learn and grow, to be renewed, fulfilled, excited, and with a new set of people to call friends.

I encourage you to fully embrace and be present with relationships and experiences, and face them openly and honestly.  Follow your beliefs.  Share your truths with others, and be willing to learn from theirs.


Perspective and Simplicity

I watched a young boy with bare feet run in the dirt, dragging behind him a simple handmade toy.  It was fashioned from an empty milk carton, a piece of string, and scrap-wood spindles and wheels.  It resembled a dump truck – the carton lying on its back with the top side removed and its insides filled with gravel.  As he ran, dust kicked up from its wheels and under his naked toes.  A smile spread across his face, he ducked around our bright yellow passenger van, and continued pulling his toy down the street.

I nudged my husband.  “Did you see that?”  I asked, as the boy disappeared.  We marveled at the smile of this local Dominican child and the simple pleasure from his humble toy.  We reflected on the contrast between this and the expensive toys and gadgets children have back home.  Moreover, the sad fact that many are ungrateful for what they have.  As toddlers, even children in the developed world garner joy from such simple things as empty boxes.  When along the way does this love of simplicity diminish?

Our conversation happened during a service project in the Dominican Republic.  Two dozen top business people in Salt Lake City, and their spouses, joined us.  Corporate Alliance brought us together – they are an organization who help people create and manage successful business relationships.  I was thrilled to be part of this trip and in particular, greatly looking forward to the service project aspect.  My husband and I attended a trip with Corporate Alliance last year, where they took us to a shelter for girls in Jamaica.  (I found it to be a rewarding and thought-provoking experience and wrote about it in my blog post here).  This year we were to supply educational materials to a school in the Dominican Republic, and repaint it inside and out.

As my companions and I pulled up to the school in our comfortable, air-conditioned transportation, the poverty in the area struck me.  The roads were dusty, iron bars covered every window and door of the nearby homes, and there was laundry strung over gates and from pieces of rope on rooftops.  The buildings were rudimentary, made from cinder blocks and scraps, with rebar sticking out of multiple crevices.  Around the corner, an elderly man sat on a plastic chair in the shade of a car repair shop, its spare fenders hanging precariously from its roof.  The children scrambled in the dust and gravel, with nothing but the simplest of shoes covering their feet.

We entered the school gates, our arms full of supplies, snacks, and water, and were met with wide grins.  To see the smiles on the faces of the children, and their teachers and parents, as they interacted with us, and as their school was improved, was heart-warming.  Some of our team got to work on re-painting the school and building benches, while others of us interacted with the children and taught them games and songs.  The Dominican children were friendly, respectful, and helpful.  We were touched that they wanted to join in and paint their school alongside us.  They grabbed brushes and paint cans of their own volition.  In their enthusiasm, some children splattered their arms and faces with raindrops of the same hopeful, sunny, yellow paint that was coating their classroom walls.  Rather than just be helped, they wanted to help themselves.  This was powerful to me.

The school itself was very basic: a lean-to wooden shack, and a tiny two-room building: each room with a chalkboard, slatted window, concrete floor, and half a dozen simple wooden desks.  An outhouse stood close-by.  The playground, which also served as additional teaching space, consisted of a dusty expanse with a couple of trees for shade, and a fence cobbled together from corrugated scrap metal, chain-link, barbed wire, and wooden pallets.  I imagined the schools in our local area, with their carpeted floors, and filled to the brim with books, computers, sports equipment, and art materials.  This was a stark contrast.

It was humbling to witness how little these people have compared to the excesses of a First World society.  A reality check for when we complain of our First World problems.  I recently saw a spoof about First World problems, which sums it up in a humorous way, but reminds us of how ridiculous our ‘problems’ sometimes are, for example, complaining about having to eat leftovers, or not having the latest phone (see skit here).  Do our excesses cause us stress?  Does a simple life bring more happiness?

This brings me back to the boy with the milk carton truck, and his simple joy.  The Dominican’s people happy outlook might seem at odds with what little so many of them have, but perhaps is because of it.  We often assume that people in developing countries want what we have.  However, maybe some can see beyond the luxuries of a developed world, to the problems they bring.  There seems to be a certain level of peace and calm that comes with a simple life.

In our busy, distracted First World society, we are always coveting after material possessions and wanting more.  It begins in childhood.  The media persuades us to long for items we do not need.  Children have advertising directly marketed to them.  Even for the most thoughtful and diligent parents it is a battle.  As adults, we fall into the yearning trap too.  We can learn from countries such as the Dominican Republic.  For children and adults in developed countries to consider what their peers in developing countries possess, and their level of happiness, is so worthwhile.

Participating in a project like this is humanizing.  It enables us to think about others, to be compassionate, understanding, and giving.  It offers us perspective.  It helps us to be thankful for what we have, and to realize we do not need all that we have.  It reminds us of the child in us, happy playing with an empty cardboard box.  It encourages us to reflect on the important things in life, and that simple things are what matter and what ultimately make us happy.  When we take part in a service project, not only do we help someone else, but it helps us too.


I am so grateful to the group we travelled with, Corporate Alliance.  Beyond the service project, I learned a great deal from their organization’s ethos and values, and from the fascinating people with me on the trip.  I will tell you about that in my next blog post: Service Project Part II –Pearls of Wisdom.

Some of my photographs from the project:

The Dominican Republic School (Escuela)

The Dominican Republic School (Escuela)


Some of the pupils.

Some of the pupils in front of the corrugated metal and scrap wood school fence.


Precarious bumpers at the car repair shop.

Around the corner precarious fenders (bumpers) hang from the roof at the car repair shop.


Laundry on the gate.

Laundry on the gate of a nearby home.


... or rooftops.

… or rebar and rope constitute a washing line on the rooftops.


Under the shade of the trees.

One of the pupils under the shade of the trees.


One of the pupils.

A beautiful Dominican child.


A student helps with the painting.

A student helps paint his school a cheerful yellow color.


The local children were happy and helpful.

The local children were happy and helpful.

My husband and I with some of the children.

My husband and I with some of the children.

Corporate Alliance group at our service project in the Dominican Republic.

Corporate Alliance C4 group at our service project in the Dominican Republic.


City Living

Busy, people, moving, purposeful, hustle, bustle, fast-paced, energy, rat race, concrete-jungle, green parks (an oasis), homelessness, innovation – these are some of the words I jotted in my journal when I spent time in a city I love, San Francisco, this summer.  Whilst in this vibrant, cosmopolitan city I experienced many sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, that got me thinking about city living.

During my twenties, I lived and worked in London – one of the most expensive, diverse, and populated cities in the world – and have certainly witnessed the pros and cons of city life.  I love so many things about cities: the energy, variety, architecture, people, culture, food, art. In the USA New York is the epitome of this for me.  Jay Z & Alicia Keys sing about it in their song Empire State of Mind.  The energy and lyrics in this song give me goose bumps.  As I sing the chorus aloud: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do”, I relish in the optimism behind it.

When I visit my great ‘foodie’ friends in both New York and  San Francisco, I enjoy some of the benefits of cities.  They take my husband and I on culinary tours.  We visit their favorite delis, markets, restaurants, and cafes, and try some of the best cheese, meats, pastries, gelato, pizza, and sandwiches I have ever tasted.  I appreciate the variety and quality of unique food you can get in a city.  I do not feel stuffed after our tasty treats, because we walk from venue to venue.  Something else I love about city living – walking (a lot).

The sprawl of the suburbs makes walking between places hard to do.  While there are lots of walking opportunities in rural and suburban areas (on trails and paths, rather than sidewalks), it is a different type of walk.  Near my home, the open space, vistas, and quietness inspire me, but I do not get to pass the interesting people and places I would in a city.  In San Francisco, I saw schoolchildren crossing the streets linked together like a giant chain, cool sculptures gracing city plazas, unusual wares outside shops or on street stands, fashions, designs, colors, sounds, and smells – complete sensory stimulation.

I also love the innovation in cities.  We have several friends who are venture capitalists and it is exciting to hear the buzz behind new ideas, products, companies, and ways of doing things.  One such company I learned about this summer is TaskRabbit.  Originally founded in Boston, it is now in 17 major US cities (and growing). TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that connects neighbors to get things done.  Neighbors helping neighbors —an old school concept reimagined for today.  Another great idea is Local Mission Market, a unique grocery store experience with produce made on-site and fast digital check-outs, which according to Wired magazine is the next big thing.

I realize there are plenty of imaginative ideas and companies born from basements, workshops, garages, and even on chairlifts, in rural and suburban areas too, such as our very own Skullcandy in Park City.  However, it seems to me there are more opportunities for creative, forward-thinking, individuals to get together and ideas to come to life in cities.  I love the energy and excitement behind that.

Another thing that comes to mind when thinking about cities is the concentration of liberal thinkers.  There seem to be many more liberals in cities than in rural areas.  I believe this has to do with the diversity of culture, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and religion found in cities.  When people interact with those different to them, I feel they are much more likely to be open, accepting, and understanding of them.  Where this is lacking in rural areas I feel we need to make an effort to encourage positive responses and behavior, through education ourselves about others, and having an open mind and heart.

Despite the trend to be more liberal and accepting of others in cities, something I wonder about is segregation (often self-imposed).  As I drove through Chinatown in San Francisco, and admired the colorful signs and storefronts, I thought about like-people congregating together in communities.  There are districts in all major cities commonly known by the type of people, shops, and restaurants in the community.  I do not necessarily consider this as being a good or bad thing; it just makes me think.

Does segregating mean you are less likely to embrace people or lifestyles in other communities?  Does it make other people feel alienated or excluded?  Do like-people come together through familiarity, safety, comfort?  I, for one, live in a country different to that in which I was born.  I find I am drawn to people I meet from my original country (perhaps due to a shared background, culture, sense of humor, etc.).  However, I am not sure I would want to live in an enclave made up entirely of these people.  I enjoy diversity, and feel there is so much to learn and gain from others, especially those different to ourselves.

Something else that causes a reaction in me when visiting cities is homeless people.  Homelessness is prevalent in London and San Francisco, and exists in the nearest urban area to me, Salt Lake City.  However, in the suburban area I live in I have never seen a homeless person.  My locale sometimes appears to me to exist in a vacuum.  It is not diverse or representative of much of the rest of the world.  Visiting a city reminds me of the world beyond my own and how other people live.  It opens my eyes.

I passed numerous homeless people on the streets of San Francisco.  At first, I would look away, out of embarrassment and not wanting to stare.  How do local people react?  Do they just become used to it, immune?  Looking away did not feel right.  This situation is real.  This is life for these people.  I knew there were stories behind each face, under each blanket, in each outstretched hand or paper cup.  Ed Sheeran’s haunting song “The A Team” has had me thinking about homelessness and people on the streets (read the story behind his song here).  His lyrics and video helped to remind me of this reality, and humanize it.  Like all of us, these people have hopes, fears, and dreams, and are someone’s son or daughter.  People’s lives can take a turn.

Next time I came across a homeless person, instead of turning my gaze, I decided to meet their eyes and smile.  One sign I saw even read, “I appreciate anything, even a smile.”  I loved that.  (Check out the video of these kids bringing smiles to homeless people).  Jay Z continues in his song “Eight million stories out there and they’re naked. Cities is a pity, half of y’all won’t make it.”  The sad truth is that people will struggle, but we can help love, support, encourage, and respect each other along the way.


Some of my photos from trips to cities:

The London Eye

The London Eye

London's Big Ben

London’s Big Ben

New York

New York

New York Taxis

New York Taxis

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

Delicious treats from San Francisco’s Local Mission Eatery

Delicious treats from San Francisco’s Local Mission Eatery

Local Mission Eatery

Delights from Knead Patisserie

Delights from Knead Patisserie

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge

Downtown San Francisco

Downtown San Francisco