Monday, March 28, 2011

Reflections: The Story of Me

I don't believe in coincidences. Instead, I think we're focused on something or there's something on our minds that we're working through so we're more aware of our surroundings. Talking about myself is hard, and I've been wondering for a while how to get started. Today's the day, I share my story. Why today? A series of related events over the past month.
 
Who Are You?
 
In one of last week's lessons for Blogging Your Way, Holly pointed out every blog should include an About Me post in addition to the general About This Blog blurb. Earlier this month, Chris Brogan reminded his readers while you as an writer might assume your readers know your story, they don't - they may have just started reading. You need to retell The Story of You for where you are today and regularly do so. And then today I randomly flipped through a book that's always on my nightstand, Our Share in the Home, a Home Economics book from 1945, to "Who Are You?" And then, only then, did I start to think about Who Am I? What is My Story?
 
How I describe myself has changed somewhat over the years. Curious who I am? Back in 2007, I created a photo collage from scanned objects, digital images, and print photographs to represent how I saw myself then -- A World Traveled Foodie. My three sentence answer to Who Are You? "I am a traveler. I am a gourmet. I am a photographer." In May 2010, I amended that view; I was a bride, rejected by Weddingbee, a native Californian, a foodie, a wine enthusiast, a photographer, and a writer.
 
Descriptions, though, are different than stories. And, none of those definitions tell the whole story. So what's my story? Here you go.
 
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than that I'm a third-generation native Californian, who's fiercely proud of her family heritage, one forged by stubborn, independent pioneers. My great great grandfather, Samuel Hensley participated in the Bear Flag Revolt (and escorted John Fremont to Washington for court martial). My great great grandmother, Mary Helen Crosby Hensley smuggled the documents of California's admission as a state to the Union in her umbrella. They later moved from the Sacramento area to settle in San Jose, CA. My grandfather helped to establish the Hensley Historic District (PDF) to preserve what was left of their homestead in the late 1980s. This drive to preserve our past while continuing to support a thriving community is why I've always been drawn to clothes and objects from the late 1940s and 1950s and sought to incorporate them into my home, not to be viewed as museum pieces but used in everyday tasks. My father, like my grandfather, made his mark on the California landscape. Most notably he was the lead engineer on the Dumbarton Bridge.
 
While following in my father's footsteps and pursuing a Civil Engineering degree, I too changed California's infrastructure, working on horizontal alignments for both the Benicia-Martinez and Carquinez Straights Bridges, as well as design alternatives for the 17/85 interchange. After graduation from Santa Clara University with both a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, I retrofitted the Pardee Dam on the Mokelumne River, raising it 10 feet to account for revised 100-year flood predictions. My favorite project is less grand, a straightforward widening of a freeway offramp - a project that both my father and my step-grandfather worked on (my step-grandfather the initial design and my father the first widening and subsequent realignment). In the mid-1990s, I switched focus from public works to the software industry. I got my feet wet working as a graphic artist for Ungermann-Bass, moving quickly into a technical writing position at a start up.
 
Road Trip: At a Vista Point Somewhere in Arizona
 
You'd think that with such strong ties to California I would never leave. You'd be wrong; I left in July 1997 for Austin, TX, where I lived until moving to East Lansing, MI, to pursue my MBA at Michigan State University. Texas and Michigan increased my love for entertaining and serving up meals with fresh, locally grown, ingredients. I also had the opportunity to refine my interior design style, decorating on a budget and limiting collections to just what would fit in the back of a Toyota RAV4.
 
In May 2004, I returned to California - the Bay Area, having survived the sweltering heat of South and the bitter cold of the Midwest.
 
Road Trip: Leaving Michigan
 
During the day I work for a technology company in Marketing. When I'm not thinking about Marketing, checking data, and developing hypotheses, I'm cooking, traveling, photographing, and writing.
 
OK, now you know you my story.
 
What's your story?
I'd love to hear!
 
Ciao Bella!
Eden!
 
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

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