It's been almost two years since I first met with a Peace Corps Recruiter on the campus of San Francisco State. This morning I had the privilege of sending a short email with the words written above—probably the two most important sentences I've ever typed. So, I thought today would be the perfect day to dust off my keyboard and get back to "Live From Tomorrow."
First, I want to thank all the family, friends, and employers that have graciously put up with my ever-pending, unpredictable life plans over the past two years. Who woulda thunk that when I left my job in June 2009 that I'd be back working there in January 2011!? Who woulda thunk that I'd be back in my old bedroom at Pop's house at age 28? Sometimes it makes me want to kick my own ass, but then I reflect on all the adventures, experiences, and love I've been fortunate to have in the meantime. Besides, I paid rent for 8 years and it sucks.
I spent half of 2010 living abroad, so the last five months back home in the Bay has been a little claustrophobic. Obviously, my focus has been securing my spot in the Peace Corps, while trying not to go completely broke in the meantime. One thing that's helped me fight the cabin fever has been my books—the best way to travel without traveling. Since my last post was in September, I figure I should update you on the reading list. My goal for last year was to read a book every week—unfortunately, I fell two books short! Here's the 2010 list in full:
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Williams Shakespeare
A Passage to India - E. M. Forster
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Yogi - Paramhansa Yogananda
Beauty and the Beast - Jeann-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont
Before Night Falls - Reinaldo Arenas
Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud - Cornel West
Chronic City - Jonathan Lethem
Civil Disobedience - Henry Thoreau
Cross Country - James Patterson
Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Foundation and Earth - Isaac Asimov
Gross National Happiness - Arthur C. Brooks
Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
How Can Man Die Better - Benjamin Pogrund
Illicit - Moisés Naím
Interpreter of Maladies - Jumpa Lahiri
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle - Moritz Thomsen
Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
Man and His Symbols - Carl Jung, et. al.
Moby-Dick - Herman Melville
Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich
Seabiscuit: An American Legend - Laura Hillenbrand
Searching for Tina Turner - Jackie Luckett
So Long a Letter - Mariama Ba
Song of the Stars: The Lore of a Zulu Shaman - Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa
The Alchemist - Paolo Coelho
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
The Black-White Achievement Gap - Rod Paige & Elaine Witty
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield
The Constant Gardener - John le Carré
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson
The Last King of Scotland - Giles Foden
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
The Rape of Nanking - Iris Chang
The Scramble for Africa - Thomas Pakenham
Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters - Farai Chideya
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Waiting for Snow in Havana - Carlos Eire
Walking with the Wind - John Lewis
What Went Wrong - Bernard Lewis
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
Since I fell short last year, I'm gonna make another run at the book-a-week goal in 2011. So far, I'm on track. I recently (finally) read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. It's definitely a must-read for anyone who cares about him- or herself. I got a lot out of the book, but one exercise was particularly interesting. Covey challenges his reader to write a Personal Mission Statement, as if you were a business, non-profit, or any other purpose-driven organization. After I finished the book I decided I'd give it a try. Writing my personal mission statement came naturally once I actually sat down to do it. As I started, I had the feeling that my mission statement should a private matter, but once I finished I changed my mind. First of all, I am proud of what I came up with. More importantly, I actually want to live up to this statement. With that in mind, I decided to share my Personal Mission Statement with you. I welcome your feedback, but what I really want you to do is call me out whenever I'm not walking the walk.
I am here to grow, love, serve, and create.
I stand on the shoulders of giants.
My time is a blessing, and death is my reminder of this truth.
I seek to cultivate discipline that empowers and inspires me to make and keep important promises to myself and to others.
I appreciate knowledge and wisdom, but less than humility.
I value strength and ability, but less than balance.
I am a tool of the Perpetual Revolution in the name of Love.
As I try to prepare myself for an experience that everyone says will be "life-changing," I find myself looking to identify things that I actually do not want to change. I don't expect to come home in three years wearing a grass skirt with a bone through my nose—but, who knows?
Hopefully, having my Personal Mission Statement will help keep me "me" in the tough times, and will help me figure out what's next.
In the meantime, I'm just staying out of trouble—trying to grow, love, serve and create. I got my "grow" on last fall taking a French class at Laney College. I was going to take another semester this Spring, but Peace Corps switched my assignment to a Lusophone country. Plus, I got invited to train (and play?) with the Bay Area Ambassadors in the NPSL, whose practices are at the same time as the class. I figure I can take French 1B when I'm old and gray, but I only have a few more years to really do my thing on the pitch.
As for love, that's the easy party. I love all y'all and I love me. I'm still serving, volunteering my time with the all-mighty Burners Football Club. And creating? Well, that's the fun part. Even though music doesn't pay my bills any more, I still put it down like Jeremih (actually, not like him at all). I finally finished my second solo music project... Extended Play. I put a lot of love, time and money into it over the last few years, so please take a few minutes to enjoy the music when you have a chance. You can download and/or listen to the seven-song ep at