When I first opened Comfort Food, the SV Moms' Book Club novel for May, I was expecting, well, comfort food. Recipes. Mouth-watering descriptions. Beautiful photos. But what struck me most about the book was not food. It was how so many of the characters in the book experienced some serious life transformations throughout the course of the story. I love how 2 of the main characters, Gus and Oliver, led completely different lives before they got into the cooking scene. And it reminded me of Alfie, myself, and all the other lives we've led.

Alfie grew up in England, in a working class village where you could count the number of college graduates in one hand. Alfie didn't grow up expecting to earn a degree. He drove wine trucks and worked as a mechanic and constantly bores me with has many fond memories of putting together combine harvester engines. He discovered computer engineering many years later and entered college at the ripe old age of twenty-four. When we visit his hometown and see some of his old friends and hangouts, he often says it feels like he's looking back at someone else's life.

Right around the time Alfie was graduating with his engineering degree, I was starting out on my life as a dancer. Yup, many of the people I hang out with these days don't know that I used to dance. I was a member of Powerdance, which was run by Douglas Nierras, one of the most respected dancers and choreographers in the Philippines. As backup dancers for many of the top pop acts in Manila, and I got to appear in lots of concerts, TV shows and commercials. I was a cheerleader in highschool and danced throughout college. I also taught beginning jazz and led the dance troupe for my college club. Then I graduated from college, entered graduate studies at Stanford, and that part of my life ended.

Just a couple of days ago a friend sent me a YouTube link to an old commercial that I appeared in during my dancing days. Everyone in the commercial is from Powerdance; I'm the girl who opens a red umbrella near the end (at 1 minute and 22 seconds into the commercial, to be exact).

Looking at these clips 20 years later, I do feel like I'm watching someone else. I still love to dance, but it's not a big part in my life anymore. Sometimes I feel sad that I can't be that person, but with three kids I don't have the time or energy to devote to dance class five nights a week! I'm happy I got a chance to do it, but when I think of all the subsequent chapters in my life -- as grad student, career girl and parent -- I realize it's all a natural progression. Change is good, and I'm happy to be where I am now.

And speaking of now, I think it might be time to start thinking about change. The twins are entering kindergarten, I'll have some time on my hands. They're growing up and starting to need me less and less. So I'm starting to ask myself again, What do I want to do? I could probably go back into software marketing, and if we really needed the money I'd call up one of my old colleagues in a second. But that's not where my heart lies. What's my next reincarnation? I think I know the answer, and if you're reading this little ol' blog of mine, you can probably take a guess as well. Here's to reinventing oneself -- and may your next life be as fulfilling (or more) than your previous ones!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post-- I'm also working on what my next step will be, and it is nice to hear from others that are making progress on this quest.

I've started a book blog as part of my explorations. I've got my review of Comfort Food up at

Kate Jacobs said...

Thanks for reading my novel; I appreciate your insights.

I am intrigued by the struggle we all have between self-definition and dealing with perceptions and expectations from others. I think what matters is that we remain open to new discoveries about ourselves.

Of course, change happens to all of us. But, as the characters in Comfort Food realize, reinvention is not merely about creating change for ourselves but can also be about tailoring our reactions to the circumstances swirling around us.

I look forward to reading more on your blog about your journey.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Wow, how exciting! You look great :-) Do you still dance, at all? How wonderful about your post dancing life!

Anonymous said...

Have you shown the kids your commercials and tv shows yet??