The Truth Is, I See You

Running to catch the bus home but stopped because what I thought was a plastic bag from afar was actually a small lady capsized on the street. Someone else was there helping soothe her after what appeared to be a nasty fall but then again she was clenching her arm and could have easily been in the midst of a heart attack from the looks of it. I stopped to see if I could help and was soon followed by another woman, luckily a nurse who could help size up the situation. I tried to prop the woman up, see if there was anyone I could call and used a little español to figure it all out. The ambulance came quickly and the EMTs were so helpful.

The nurse ran to catch the bus because she was late for her other job. When the EMTs rolled up they thought the lady – Virginia was her name – had fallen in a skateboard accident because the other bystander dudes board was strewn about next to her. Certainly not the case. I called Virgina’s fam back to let them know what hospital she was being taken to. The other guy who had been helping jetted in another direction without exchanging a word. I assumed he would be on the bus too, but he had other plans. Instead of recapping what had happened with him I just headed home. And this all transpired in about 15 minutes – maybe less.

People are truly inherently good and loving. At any other non accident induced bus stop we strangers would have looked so different from one another without a thing in common between us other than a shared direction. In that moment we were beautiful – selfless, caring and genuine. We stopped time to help another person and worked out some epic teamwork to make sure she was taken care of. I’m so appreciative of moments that reveal the absolute truth: realize that the other person is you.

New Yorkers Face Crippled Commute One Day After Hurricane Hits City
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 29: Commuters ride the R train from Brooklyn into Manhattan during rush hour August 29, 2011 in New York City. One day after Hurricane Irene hit New York and New England, the mass transit system, including subways and buses, began moving again in a limited capacity in time for Monday’s rush hour. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The 27 Best Things I’ve Ever Done

Today’s going to be a monster. I know you know what I mean. We all have days like today. A program I am working on was supposed to launch a month ago and is only now finally arriving in stealth sprint mode, which means I’m going to be a busy bee the next few days. Only thing is, a few weeks ago I planned a trip for my younger bro to come visit me – his first time ever in NYC! I thought this week would be relatively chill, but life is full of surprises and this week is certainly a great reminder and challenge to rise to the occasion.

Brooklyn Sibs

I read this amazing note by none other than Danielle La Porte (I always want to call her Daniella, maybe because that sounds more magical) last night that helped me shift my perspective from clouded with worry all the way closer to an optimistic “I can have it all and then some” vibe. Then I promptly passed out only to have awesome vivid dreams about crafting (weird pieces of cut-up t-shirt collages and glitter, of course) at a table full of friends, a visit from an ex-boyfriend and an adventure in a really cool old house with weavy, windy staircase mazes. I woke up refreshed and even made it to spin before I tackled the inbox full of questions I’m not sure I have all the answers to.

I try to write a daily gratitude list but today, before diving in full force, I’m feeling like a more reflective list is in order – Danielle-style, if you will. So here are the 27 best things I’ve ever done:

  1. Started meditating to get more in tune with my mind, body and spirit. This is a huge part of why I am taking time to free-write and share what’s going on as opposed to keeping it all in and just going into the day like a stress ball.
  2. Investing in my health via natural avenues such as acupuncture and naturopaths. Following direction to naturally help my body heal and come back into balance.
  3. Waking up early so my natural body clock is up and ready to go around 6:15am. Going to bed earlier and powering down my phone and other screen stuff at a reasonable hour.
  4. Writing morning pages when I can – doing a brain dump or writing a blog post first thing in the AM to get out whatever is on my mind. Sharing it with others as a form of self-care. Sharing authentically as a way to validate to myself that what I have to say matters.
  5. Investing in trips back to SF to visit my parents, spending quality time with them perusing the streets during epic urban hikes. It’s been the best way to really get to know them now that I’m not an angsty adolescent bent on getting them to let me go to concerts and stay out late.
  6. Stopped drinking almost 4 years ago. Hands down the best thing I have ever done to take care of myself.
  7. Started this website/blog to share, market myself and use a new platform to connect with likeminded people and communities.
  8. Sat with my dad for 3 hours to help re-do his entire resume and cover letter after almost 20 years of no job searching and certainly no internet. He starts his new dream job in about a week!
  9. Investing in my spiritual growth through Reiki and life coaching. Working with a coach for 6 months was the best thing I did for myself at a time when I really needed grounding and support.
  10. Working with an astrologer who I trust to help keep me accountable to my intuition and spiritual principles.
  11. Going to Costa Rica by myself a few years ago. The first time I had ever traveled internationally alone, it was both terrifying and incredibly liberating. And suddenly I just wanted more.
  12. Going to Spain this past Spring and going again in September.
  13. Running the Brooklyn Half Marathon and meeting my goal of simply not walking throughout the entire thing.
  14. Joining the team at Praytell, a job that feels like a dream where I get to work with fantastic people who inspire me every single day.
  15. Getting laid off from an agency that was a terrible fit for me – which lead me to freelancing, and eventually lead me to the job I have today. Mostly this experience taught me that I never have to be unhappy or feel uncomfortable at work ever again and if I do, I’m not in the right place and it’s time to go.
  16. Joining the board at United Women in Business as VP Philanthropy. Volunteering is the sweet spot of my life most days – and I get to meet such fantastic, inspiring women on the regular.
  17. Participating in Momentum basic and advanced trainings this past year, treating myself to such incredible gifts of personal growth, community and love.
  18. Tracking my spending using a mobile app and using it to inform a spending plan I created to keep my finances on budget. Otherwise I can easily fall into vagueness and lose track of what I have, what’s coming in and what’s going out.
  19. Drinking more tea, less coffee.
  20. Cutting sugar, gluten and dairy way, way down.
  21. Making my lunch most days then buying it out.
  22. Practicing saying “No thanks, but I appreciate your invitation” so much more so I can leave time in my schedule open for fun, rest and being spontaneous.
  23. Contributing more money to my investment account on a regular basis via auto-pay.
  24. Starting an auto-pay travel account that helps me fund my vacations so I’m not constantly scrambling to pay expenses at the last minute. Capital One 360 baby.
  25. Going on a 4 day silent meditation retreat and meditating for over 2 hours in one sitting. Experiencing equanimity for what felt like a real eternity or possibly just a few seconds.
  26. Moving to NYC almost 5 years ago, where my life would change forever and really take root in a way I never thought possible.
  27. Studying abroad in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil for a semester in 2009 during college. Volunteering as a teacher in 2 schools there, seeing how much I identify as a global citizen and how the world really is much smaller than I think. Inspired by people with so little living such full, abundant, joyous lives.

Pinch Me: Looking Back to Look Forward

You know what the best feeling is? Getting a much needed reality check in which you realize you’re a completely different person from who you were five years ago, three years ago, even one year ago. I don’t know about you but sometimes I get antsy and caught all up in my present day life thinking, you know, I’m not doing enough. Am I really on track to accomplishing all I want to accomplish by 30? Am I successful? Am I where I want to be? Then suddenly I get a nice reality check that puts it all into perspective. First of all, no one has it together by 30. I don’t care who you are – late twenties and early thirties still seem like growing up time to me. In fact, maybe we keep growing up forever? Maybe we’re never actually adults, how about that? I had a nice reality check last night that reminded me of where I was 5 years ago and for the sake of reflection slash  nice dose of humility, here’s a snapshot. Five years ago to the date I was:

  • UCSC grada month into living in Santa Barbara, CA
  • living with my boyfriend I had met in Brazil who was from So-Cal (hence the move)
  • working at Citrix Online as an assistant in the purchasing department, not even in Santa Barbara but in a part of town called Goleta across the way from UCSB
  • commuting 2o minutes to work each day on the freeway
  • working in a cubicle amid hundreds of other people, taking lunch breaks to chain restaurants in strip malls or escaping to the wild preserve by hiking down the freeway to walk around, making phone calls to all my friends in the Bay I missed so much
  • joining Rotary Club in SB because I was so lonely and yearned for connecting with people I could relate to and share interests with
  • considering getting an evening cocktail waitress job at Wildcat (locally coined the Shitty Kitty, seriously the name speaks for itself) because it would be a fun way to meet people and occupy my time while my boyfriend worked at a neighboring bar
  • planning lots of visits to SF and LA where I was comforted by diversity, culture and familiar city sights and sounds

Needless to say I didn’t stay in Santa Barbara for much longer. I was there for about 6 months total, during which time I actually did make some great friends while also acquiring some valuable work experience. Mostly I finally got courage to LA In and Out, per usualmake a move for myself, once and for all. At first I made a list of all the grad schools I wanted to go to – thinking I’d apply ASAP for a MPP or MPA since I was no longer interested in pursuing law. To my surprise all the schools with my desired program were in NYC with the exception of one in Chicago (sorry Windy City, wasn’t feeling it).

I thought, maybe I should move to NYC first to see if I like it before going ahead and applying to school. So I gave myself a month to sublease my apartment, bought a one way flight to NYC and started hustling to get a job and apartment for when I’d touch down December 1st, 2010. And everything worked out better than I could have possibly planned or imagined. There’s no way I would have believed you if five years ago you told me my life would look like it does today. I don’t regret anything that’s happened along the way, its all, for better or for worse, experience that’s made me more into the person I am supposed to be. But I have to remember where I came from, even just a few years ago – first touching down in NYC with no idea what was in store for me. When I get caught up in the here and now wondering if anything is off since I don’t yet have my own multi-million dollar company, haven’t been on the cover of any magazines and haven’t yet invented a product or idea that has single handedly changed the entire world, I can remember to take it easy. No one has saved the world over night. These things take time and work, and the work isn’t always obvious. And from what I can tell so far, the hardest work of all usually starts within.

SF

Stuntin’ is a Habit (Get like me)

Be all there

Love this song. Right now I’m taking it as a reminder to make new habits – consciously form new habits, especially the ones that feed my soul. For me, traveling is just that. Last week was my first week back a 10 day blissful adventure in Spain, which actually felt like a month away. Time slows down maybe everywhere else in the world outside of NYC.

I started by adventure in Cadiz, where time literally slowed down, spread out and morphed in ways I still have trouble understanding. The sunrise is earlier and sunset is way later than anywhere I’ve ever been (9:30-10pm in summer or maybe always) and it’s the norm to eat weekday dinner at 10pm. Siestas are brilliant although my first day walking around I didn’t quite get why there wasn’t anywhere open to eat. Siestas are such a real thing in Cadiz that the town literally shuts down for a few hours between 12 and 4pm to give people a chance to literally and figuratively chill (so hard).

Barcelona offered more of the familiar NYC city vibe with a certain SF swagger I couldn’t help but feel was familiar. I felt like I had been there before, quite possibly in a past life. Most importantly I realized the root of the restlessness I was feeling for quite awhile. After all I hadn’t taken a real unplugged vacation (for longer than a long weekend) in a couple of years!

Here’s what I’m taking back with me from my recent escapade – new habits with intentions to match:

1. Plan more weekend getaways, get out of town, get a fresh perspective. Get into gratitude for how awesome my life is in NYC. Remember 5 years ago when I dreamed of moving here and I went for it, without a job, or anything? Yeah, that happened. What a ride.

2. Treat the day like an adventure. On vacation I love waking up without too much planned and just seeing where the day takes me – spontaneity in its purest form. Instead of planning the week with back to back commitments and activities, how about going with the flow and seeing what I actually feel like doing throughout the day. Adios FOMO. 

3. Go on solo adventures walking around NYC, visiting spots I’ve never visited before. Where would I go if I was a tourist visiting NYC for the first time on my own? There are still so many places I haven’t experienced here – I’m excited to venture out into the great beyond with a renewed sense of wonder. Hiking along Appalachian Trail, The Cloisters, Brighton Beach, Hudson Valley spots, Fire Island, NJ hiking and beaches…and much more.

4. Eat amazing food, adventure to far away neighborhoods to experience famed cuisine only available in NYC. Dim Sum in Flushing, Indian in Jackson Heights, soul food in Harlem, Dominican in Washington Heights.

5. Run around with no schedule in mind and no limit on time. Stop to take pics and bask in the beauty of Prospect Park, Central Park, the city, the Brooklyn Bridge and the loop around Battery Park up the Westside Highway.

6. Write about my experiences. Remember why I moved here, what I thought would happen and what actually transpired. Tell the story of how it’s all unfolded.

So much awesome change is in the air lately – I’m excited for more of it to unfold in the coming months! But as always it all starts with today.

BK Bridge

What Ever Happened to Field Trips?

I can’t remember the last time I went on a real field trip – maybe back in college? It seems like it all happened a long time ago. Back in the day at Hoover Middle School, me and 800 of my closest 8th grade friends were taken to the Exploratorium on the free day as our 8th grade graduation field trip. Classic SF middle school jam if I do say so myself. In high school I went on solo lead field trips to visit my friends at other schools down the block and sometimes as far away as Lowell, which was all the way across the city. Anything to get my Sunset snacks at Victor’s Bakery, Panda Express at Stonestown or UCSF on Parnassus. So many memories.

Just the other day the special place I get to show up at every day (Praytell) turned two! For a happy birthday adventure we all took an afternoon stroll up the block to our neighboring Brooklyn Museum. How lucky are we? I forget how peaceful and inspiring exploring the ins and outs of an epic museum can truly be – I want to do this more often. I took a few snaps, mostly of colorful paintings emulating the style and energy I’d be proud to hang in my own home. What can I say, I like what I like. I could have spent way more time in the Egypt exhibit – I even took a meditation break to take in some of the majestic history I sensed surrounding me.

I only go to museums now, for the most part, when people come visit me. Then we’ll go to the Met or the MoMa, walk through Central Park or Prospect Park, or maybe take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. A long time ago when I first visited NYC I remember taking a day to myself while my friend had class at Columbia to walk all the way downtown from Harlem. I stopped inside the Museum of the City of New York and even ran into Julia Stiles in the entrance – such an NY moment. Reading about the city’s history and Robert Moses’ vision for development was electrifying. I knew I had to live here one day. And here I am, nearly a decade later, still seeking museum dates and long adventurous strolls across Manhattan with no particular destination in mind.

Below:

  1. Georgia O’Keeffe – Brooklyn Bridge
  2. Jarrell A. Wadsworth – Revolutionary
  3. Kehinde Wiley – Saint Remi (check out more of Kehinde’s work and upcoming exhibitions on Artsy)

IMG_8238 revolution

Kehinde Wiley Saint remi

Note to Self: Getting Real Meta

Super Fly Hammer Time.It’s pretty late and I’m tying up some work related loose ends, all the meanwhile keeping Mad Men on in the background and occasionally checking in to stay up to speed. Then suddenly it hit me. I’m living the Mad Men dream right now. I live in NYC and I feel pretty at home here, which some might say is the hardest part of all. Plus I get to work in a pretty cool creative field keen on mastering the art of perspective shifting and pushing various envelopes.

It didn’t happen overnight. Nothing does. Even things that feel like they’re meant to be I think don’t happen overnight. Sometimes I feel fortunate enough to tune into the moments when it just feels like everything I’ve done leading up to this point makes sense, even if it didn’t at some points along the way. The Mad Men moment just now was one of those moments. It’s like seeing your life from another vantage point, from outside of your definitive moment and locale. Like taking on the perspective of an on-looker objectively taking stock of what’s offered.

The webpage I designed in 6th grade to keep up with all my friends and write LyKe DiS oN aIm AlL nYt3 makes sense now too. Picture the ultimate realness of internet throwback gold, you don’t even know how much I wish I kept the site up (RIP shupz.cjb.net). Weird memory but it just feels like a piece of the larger puzzle. I wish I stuck with it, I really do. But I’m comforted in imagining how my fresh middle school website might very well be part of why I’m here today, doing what I’m doing and doing it well.

I don’t always feel like that but in this moment I do. So I’ll savor it as best I can, and what better way to remember than to write a note to self. Remember watching Mad Men, thinking I might be living a Mad Men dream except in a different century, with internet, using words like Meta, and maybe it’s not really anything like the show at all except for the loose connotation of advertising. It doesn’t really matter how I got here anyway, it’s that I am here at all. Here being the place where I feel like I belong.

 

Interviewing: The Remix

Hey GirlIn my job search escapades over the last month or so (I know, it hasn’t even been that long), I’ve gained what feels like lifetimes of experience and knowledge. First off, I’ve got my elevator pitch nailed to a tee. I know what it is I am really looking for, and have even had the opportunity to pass on a few opportunities because I knew my heart wasn’t in it. So far, the potential employers I’ve spoken to seem to genuinely appreciate my honesty. Cultural fit is everything. 

As far as remixing a typical interview style, I’ve found it helpful to turn the tables early on in the conversation and really explicate what it is you’re looking for. What matters most to you, and what will truly make you happy at a job? Think about what means most to you, what will you look forward to getting up for everyday?

Here are some of the questions I ask to guide my early screening conversations:

  1. How long have people generally worked here? Do employees tend to stick around for awhile?
  2. Do employees spend time together outside of work? Are there company-organized activities for fostering community and encouraging teamwork?
  3. Are there opportunities for people to weave in their personal interests into the job?
  4. What incentives are in place to inspire employees?
  5. How does the company leadership support an engaged company culture?
  6. Describe the employee and management review process.
  7. How collaborative is the work environment? With what frequency do teams meet internally or cross-departmentally to communicate priorities, ideas and changes?

Maybe you have different questions specific to what is most important to you. For me, cultural fit and knowing I will get along with the people I work with all day is my top priority. I want to work somewhere I’m comfortable being my authentic self, where I can share time and creativity with similarly inspired, creative, smart people who want more than just a job to show up to. I want to grow and learn from people that are really invested in creating the future. Everyone deserves to feel aligned in their career and passions, but it’s up to you to be your best advocate.

Professional Urban Hiking

Bernal Hill

Whenever I come home to visit SF my parents and I always make a point to take at least one day together to do an epic city hike. I don’t know if other families do this but we always have and likely always will. It’s just become a family tradition we almost expect of one another whenever we’re together for at least a weekend. I always expect one of my parents to suggest that either Saturday or Sunday we take a long walk, grab lunch and enjoy a fantastic vista from atop a super steep hill. All that walking makes the lunch taste that much better and the view look that much more magical.

I’m not sure if getting older has made me appreciate my parents more or if it’s just something that naturally happens to everyone once they finally move out of their parents’ home. I just know that I can’t believe my parents had me when they were my age. The thought of having a kid right now scares the life out of me and I can’t fathom them doing it way back in the late 80s when it was just a whole different world, with no internet or cell phones. How did they do it? I’m so thankful my parents raised me the way they did. They always encouraged me to try things that I was interested in, no matter if they were just purely creative ventures without a particularly clear end goal. They always encouraged me to seek things off the beaten path and welcome diversity in people, places and experiences. These nostalgic moments of gratitude always hit me when we’re walking around the city together, sometimes for lengthy hours of trudging from the city center to the far ends of Bernal Heights, all the way up the hill, or other times down to Aquatic Park and Pier 39 to see the bustling tourism and seals.

Today we went to a concert at the Knockout Room, which I hadn’t been to in years and certainly never with my parents or in the middle of the afternoon. It dawned on me how cool they really are and how I must have derived some (maybe all) of my coolness–or whatever it is that I derive confidence from–from them. I used to be so embarrassed by them! I remember leaving the house to go somewhere all together when I was around 4th or 5th grade and I wouldn’t let my dad leave the house until he changed his shoes because the way he looked bothered me so much. I’m glad my parents were able to laugh at me (and hopefully less at me and more along with me) during the awkward years called adolescence. Thank god we all grow up eventually.

Someday I’ll probably move back to SF and live in the Mission, Potrero Hill or around Duboce Park and when I do I hope my parents and I will be able to take long weekend urban hikes to new parts of the city we never typically included in our quests. Maybe to Clement Street or out to Stern Grove or even to the Zoo. Maybe to the Presidio and down to Chrissy Field to walk beneath the Bridge. We always have the best talks during our walks and I’m always surprised at how much more I have to learn from them. In the mean time I hope they come visit me in Brooklyn to take long walks around my neck of the woods. It will be beautiful and feel historic and perhaps we’ll manage to walk more because of the more even elevation. Maybe the food tastes better and the views look more beautiful not just because of the effort we’ve put in by walking, but because of the special company we share.