Traveling Solo Is The Best Way to See Yourself

Something pretty miraculous that I’ve really tuned into lately is how wonderful it is that I enjoy spending time with myself. This is a miracle. It used to be so hard for me to sit still and even spend a minute trying to meditate alone. For the longest time I simply couldn’t do it. I really didn’t like myself and found it much easier to criticize myself and focus on negativity than anything else – it was my default, unbeknownst to me at the time. For many years, the critical, afraid, negative voice of mine was the only voice I really knew.

Traveling alone is something I first did when I had about one year sober and I decided to book a solo expedition to Costa Rica for slightly over a week. It was right around the time of my one year anniversary of recovery so I wanted to do something really special. I booked a flight somewhat impulsively wondering if anyone might end up coming with me or if I was really going to go through with it and make the solo trek. I ordered a new backpack and everything – and started imagining how I would go about packing it up for the 8 day adventure. And a few months later, before I could back out or come up with a good enough excuse to not do it, I was off. I remember waking up in Tamarindo the first day and feeling really scared – like I was all alone in a new country and had no idea what I wanted to do to pass the day or even the next hour. I was overwhelmed with possibility and scared about what might happen if I ventured out all by myself.

I was mostly scared to be truly and completely alone with myself. I never really had to be after all. In NYC I always had plenty of distractions and could be surrounded by people every moment of the day if I chose to be. Being alone with myself and really having to engage and ask myself what I wanted to do was a huge challenge. I had to listen in and be pretty patient as I started to let my inner voice emerge, maybe for the first time. I never really gave it much air time back then and to hear it required a massive turning up of the consciousness volume – like that frequency hadn’t been used too often so it took extra care to attune to.

Eventually I got over the fear and went to the coffee shop next to my hostel where I ended up making friends with the owners who were long time Berkeley, CA residents. Of course. Leave it to me to find the Bay Area peeps anywhere in the world. We are like magnets for one another I swear. Not only did I end up having the best coffee (and would continue to everyday I was in Tamarindo) I also made some other friends who I started to see around town. It was a pretty small expanse after all. I went out to dinner with friends I met at my hostel, one of whom I even ended up hitching a ride with to Monteverde, high up in the mountains towards the middle away from the coastal beaches I had been enjoying. More than these fun little moments though was the cultivation of newly found self esteem and confidence – secured through honoring what I wanted to do and following my inner guidance. I was reaching out for guidance in a way I hadn’t done before because honestly it felt like I had no choice to do otherwise. I was granted so much relief and ultimately got to enjoy so much fun. If you missed this, read more about my Costa Rica adventure here – it was pretty magical indeed.

My next solo adventure was to Barcelona, which was a huge milestone for me given my long history of thinking that traveling to Europe simply wasn’t something available to me. I ended up meeting an amazing guy there who I ended up traveling around with quite a bit for about a year after – it was like a movie romance seriously. He just got a girl friend in Barcelona (yay for geographical convenience) and I’m so happy for him. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever had where I feel like we are truly friends and I can be happy for him that he’s so happy and found someone amazing close by to connect with. Another miracle – surely a result of developing this loving relationship with myself over the years, definitely.

Portugal was always on my mind since living in Brazil while studying abroad back in 2009. I was curious to see the land of tiled streets with the most epic conquistador rap sheet aside from Spain. I find it so hard to believe that such two small nations at one point controlled most of the known world – bizarre indeed and even more so that I think people are very proud of that history to this day. A few cab drivers in Lisbon swore to me that their Ponte 25 de Arbil bridge is older than the Golden Gate Bridge – perhaps even the inspiration for the west coast counterpart. The record was just set straight by this nice dude at the airport who assured me that the Golden Gate has a few decades on it at least and before the name change to the date of the revolution the bridge was named after the last dictator Salazar.

Did I mention my first day in Lisbon I went to a dance party in the forest on top of this big hill? Yes, and I got an amazing Ayurvedic massage mixed with some reiki vibes in this cool tent off to the side of the party – perfection. I’m so glad I started talking to the girl manning the tent, her Buddha statue caught my eye and I knew something good was about to unfold.

And each day in Lisbon was better than the last. I got to know this amazing woman who is part of my IIN group coaching call – she’s seriously a rockstar cellist, music therapist, surfer pro, teacher and super cool mom! I am so grateful to have connected with her, what an amazing friend indeed. I even went on a date my second to last night there with the best guy – a former tour guide and flight attended turned social media marketer who literally has the best stories I’ve ever heard. We enjoyed some sweet rooftop snack vibes and strolling through the windy streets and staircases of Bairro Alto followed by a drive through the city interior to make sure I got to see absolutely every part of town.

Basically I feel so blessed to witness how magically things seem to unfold particularly when I don’t over plan. This is something I desperately want to integrate more of into my everyday life – which I don’t want to be much different from my experience traveling and adventuring in other countries. Might I please remember this time that everywhere I go people are amazed to hear that I live in NYC? Their excitement makes me want to take more advantage of the city and its true spectrum of activities and fun. I also want to intend on having more down time so I can spontaneously allow happenstance fun into my life and run ins with incredible people I might not otherwise meet. #notetoself

So I have a week in Berlin and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds. I’m definitely going to get into some yoga, cook more for myself (so much bread and cheese in Portugal, I need some veggies yo!) and work at some fun co-working spots. You know how WeWork is a thing in the US? Well apparently that whole co-working scene has been a thing in Berlin specifically for much longer! I’m going to get all up in it and pretend like I’m in Silicon Alley: Berlin. One of my clients cracked me up yesterday on the phone when he started dropping the most stereotypical lingo of all time, to which I had to respond: “we are streamlining so many synergies!” True story. Love my life. And more than anything I am reminded of how grateful I am to love spending time with myself – I am the coolest person I know, what a miracle <3

Oh Hay July

But really – SUMMER? I’m feeling you. The JAM right here. So what’s really good? Here are some faves, mark your calendars, spread the word – hope to see you real soon! xx

  1. Cache: Output Rooftop Sunset 7/7: Free disco house [music] partay affair on the Output roof just in time for sunset – hosted by Cache crew. Just RSVP for free entry and enjoy the chillest summer vibes all evening long. Same night as The Get Down (aka high vibe dance party with Tasha Blank), also happening downstairs around the same time.
  2. Uplift Project 009 7/12: Breath-work with Erin Telford + the Uplift ladies – hosted at Modo Yoga, one of my new fave hot yoga studios in Williamsburg, its beautiful! Breath-work with Erin is famously magical, I’m looking forward to experiencing it for the first time!
  3. The Big Quiet 7/13: Come meditate in Central Park with 2,000 of your new best friends. We’ll share some special silence and enjoy a sound bath plus some other special guests – we’re going big for the Big Quiet’s one year birthday!
  4. The Numinous Presents: Rewriting Your Love Story 7/15-17 UPSTATE @ Maha Rose North: This is happening at my favorite place ever, right outside of Woodstock in the beautiful Maha magical land, hosted by The Numinous crew – it should be absolutely EPIC. Think: love-centered astrology, meditation into the heart space, water ceremony, creative writing, crafting, sharing, and play. YAASS, please.
  5. Collage with Caris 7/28: Caris Reid is a beautiful artist, reiki practitioner and facilitator of [super dope] super original collage workshops! She provides all the beautiful vintage materials and even does a guided meditation to get everyone in the zone. Everything’s included – just show up ready to tap into your creative vibes and connect with lovely likeminded magic makers.
  6. Kundalini Disco 7/29: Umm, need I say more? Kundalini is one of my fave types of yoga – involving less downward dog and more mantra, meditation, pranayama (breath-work) and kriyas (rapid movements that help focus the mind and breath). DISCO is..well..you know..the best? Put the two together – you have a recipe for a spiritual experience and then some (WERKout for the body mind and soul, hello). I would be here dancing the night away if I wasn’t going to be lounging around in Portugal, but hay, next time!
  7. Startup Island Summer Camp 8/26-28: Looking forward to August? Plan ahead for an epic entrepreneur pow wow upstate with me and a bunch of your new buddies – we’ll be enjoying inspiring workshops, yoga, meditation, coaching and innovation collab’ing – it’s going to be REAL! I can’t wait. It’s not too far away but just far enough to feel like we’re really escaping the city, and there’s a sweet lake and other fun camp-y past times. If you’d like to attend let me know and I can give you a special discount #hookup <3

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Epic Adventure Time

It was all a dream..I used to ready WordUp magazine..is the song that comes to mind! But in truth, it wasn’t all a dream, even if it still feels like it. I love vacations where you just miss 7 days of work but it feels like you’ve been gone for months. It’s like time traveling or close to it. I just got back from a magical adventure to Spain (for the second time) and France (new country in Europe for me!).

Let’s just say, I ate pretty amazing food every day, got used to a weird schedule for waking, sleeping and eating and saw some of the most beautiful beaches and countryside imaginable. Meat and cheese are serious endeavors in both countries – like professional grade serious. Breakfast on most days consisted of bocadillos, AKA fresh baguette with squashed tomato spread inside and jamon serrano with brie or some other kind of decadent queso (translation: cheese). No wonder the siesta is so necessary (siesta: an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate).

Here are some snaps from my adventures – picture yourself full of delicious cheese, pastries and fresh coconut or mango juice or cafe con leche (only the best espresso, always), then snorkeling, hiking, dancing, eating some more and waking up to do it all again. For fully immersive experience, try listening with this on in the background: my new favorite song <3

Barcelona Night
View from the terrace – Barcelona at night <3

Carcassonne River
Carcassonne River, strolling through this super ancient Medieval town on the way to explore a castle.

Carcassonne
This castle is possibly one of the oldest structures I’ve ever seen

Dali Arte
The Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain.

Dali Chillin
Hanging with my homie Dali in Cadaques.

Cadaques
Cadaques – beautiful Catalonian seaside town with all white buildings, delicious seafood and perma-summer in the air.

Cala Futadera
Actually #nofilter. See-through water plus we saw a live octopus swimming beneath us while snorkeling! Then this older dude came into catch it, possibly to cook for dinner?

Barcelona Lurking
Love getting lost in the Gothic Quarter’s old windy narrow streets.

Cala Futadera
More Cala Futadera, close to Tossa De Mar – so beautiful.

Blai tapas
Necessary. Lots of Tapas in Poble Sec – super cheap too and amazingly delicious.

Cala Syd
I was really there!

Secret Cala
I was really there!

Borne
I was really there!

Cap De Creus
Cap de Creus – a tip top point in Catalonia with views for days.

Via de Canes
At Ferias (party night) in Via de Canes – a bit south of Barcelona. Check out the jamon leg – gimme some of that!

Cadaques
More Cadaques – hiked out to a ridge view and couldn’t get enough of this beautiful ocean inlet.

Sant Feliu de Guixols
Walked around the entire border of Sant Feliu de Guixols and Sa’ Agaro – beautiful beachy towns with cute seafood spots and of course old medieval fortresses/castles. There were Cami de Rondas all around the coast – little staircase paths to go down to swimming holes (calas) all around the town. So breathtaking.

Dali Museo
Dali Museum courtyard.

Dali Surreal
Super surreal at the Dali Museum

*As originally seen on the Praytell Blog <3

Going With The Flow, Ultra Dreamy Style

     Just this past April I went on my first trip ever to Europe, first to visit a friend in southern Spain then to Barcelona solo! I love traveling alone, it’s honestly the best way to get to know yourself and really get in touch with what you truly love. At least for me this tends to be the case. My first solo trip was to Costa Rica for a little over a week. I went without a plan other than just the hostel I would spend my first night in. The rest I figured I’d leave up in the air – see how I feel and then go from there. What a refresh from my seemingly overly planned scheduled life in NYC. The first day waking up in Costa Rica, if I remember correctly, was kinda terrifying. I was along in another country. I could do whatever I wanted and no one would really know. I felt overwhelmed and scared – what should I choose? I suddenly felt nervous about going out of my hostel room into the shared kitchen where other visitors and their friends were all hanging. Would I look lame because I was alone? Where did this high school nervousness suddenly pop up from?

I ventured out anyway and realized a ton of other people I thought were all friends were actually solo travelers just like me. Of course. One dude from Chicago invited me to check out the best coffee spot and then suggested I venture to the beach. Once I got to the ocean I realized – this is what I had come for. I let go of the anxiety and pressure to plan out the perfect trip so I could get the most out of my experience and started meditating, asking for guidance and support in letting it all go to be open to a whole new experience.

Long story short I had the best time. Like, literally. The guy from Chicago with the coffee recommendation? He ended up inviting me to hitch a ride to Monteverde, the most beautiful mountainous rain forest area a couple hundred miles away from the Pacific coast. I was only there with him for a day and solo for a few days after, where I went on an epic 10 mile hike and saw a hidden waterfall, a butterfly preserve and met this awesome magical psychic lady who I got to help with her shop’s Facebook page in exhange for a massage! Needless to say my trip worked out better than I could have even tried to plan. As usual.

I’m writing from JFK about to depart for Moscow then Barcelona. Super weird itinerary, I know. I jumped when I saw a super cheap ticket, realizing only after the fact that the layover was almost half a days travel out of the way. Whoops! My first thought: cool, I’ll check out Russia, especially on the way back during the 12 hour layover from 9pm-9am! I’ll go to DA CLUB or who knows what. No sleep till Moscow. Then I realized the visa process was intense and expensive plus I would need a formal hotel invitation to exit the airport, real serious like. Then I caved again and bought a direct flight back from Barcelona to NYC, paying about the same cost of a direct round trip flight in the end. Lesson learned I hope.

So what brings me back to Barcelona this time? I still haven’t been anywhere else in Europe after all. Well, on my third to last day in town during my solo adventure I decided to mix it up and go on Tinder to see if I could find a new friend to holler at some dinner and maybe, if we hit it off, a fun Flux Pavillion concert I had tickets to. First of all, Tinder in Barcelona is just better than NYC. Everyone is gorgeous and has way more game. Not in a creepy pretentious way though. Game in the authentic, romancing type way. Some kinda way!

After some banter back and forth about “necesito un guía de turismo” (I need a tour guide aka my suave pick up line) – I was on my way to meet this guy for dinner. Since I didn’t have cell service, just what’s app on wifi, we made an old school plan to meet by an ATM outside of the train. I could only keep thinking, God how did people used to live without phones? Showing up on time to a specific place never seemed so incomprehensible. Sure enough, there he was! Just when I thought we lost each other, he turned the corner, mentioning there was another ATM of the same bank at the other trains entrance. Thankfully he didn’t think I had stood him up.

We had an awesome dinner and luckily he was into the concert idea too. I could tell he thought the venue was funny – reminiscent of study abroad bars I think, and sure enough when we got there it was bro overload. I almost felt like I was in San Diego again circa 2008. We proceeded to dance the night away and I created my own movie moment on the roof of Razzmatazz – we were deciding what we wanted to do next, to which I replied, “Quiero besarte!” Translation: I want to kiss you. Then it was game over, the chemistry I had felt earlier at dinner was more than confirmed and suddenly I was lost, lost in the heat of the moment (queue Frank Ocean in the background).

The next day we checked out the beach, rising over on his motorcycle through the bustling Barcelona streets. I got the best tour of the city I could have hoped for. We fell asleep on the beach, talking about astrology or something spiritual in Spanish – but it gets better. We had another awesome date that night, checking out the magical dancing fountains of Montjuic and then enjoying a delicious sushi dinner (like really good). I had been on quite a few Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, blah blah dates over the years but nothing ever materialized into anything serious except for a few cool new friends (no new friends). Something was different now. I felt like we were on the same level, in a cool way where he would say what I was thinking, more than just a few times. It was striking and really refreshing at once. I also just felt really good about going with the flow and not being in my head about the usual questions – where is this going? Are we a good fit? Are we going to date? But I live far away. Is he successful? What does he think of me? And on and on and on literally forever. This time there was none of that. I was just me and it was all good. Maybe it was a case of ultimate freedom and surrender to vacation vibes in the most romantic place maybe aside from Paris (or so I’ve heard). Regardless, I was all about this life.

 Time flies when you’re having fun. He came with me to my Airbnb apartment to help me pack the ridiculous amount of stuff I had brought with me and even saw me off as I led with this ridiculously old, quite possibly blind retired taxi driver my Airbnb host hooked me up with for a mega deal. I didn’t have huge expectations of what was to come but felt really happy with how we parted ways and knew I would always have a friend in Spain no matter what.

After I got home I was amazed that he was eager to keep in touch. It felt easy to, not calculated or ripe with any ulterior motives like other post-dating comms can sometimes feel. I was going with the flow and loving it. We Skyped and texted a lot on What’s App and before I knew it, I was booking my weird flight to Moscow, I mean Barcelona, for a few months later. We started planning an awesome adventure together that somehow morphed into a road trip up Costa Brava from Barcelona into Southern France. I forget who suggested it but in any case it reminds me of the California Pacific Coast Highway but even more beautiful if that’s even possible. And the water is more green and swim-able. Dreamy.

So here I am, waiting to get on this epic flight to Russia aboard (no lie) “The world’s most improved airline.” This is a real marketing tag line for Transaero by the way, although their website might be fake, which is surprising because there are so many other people waiting for my same flight. Maybe I’m just late to the Russia flight game. I’m excited and also nervous! I haven’t seen him in a few months and I’m going to see him in the airport looking super haggard after nearly a day of traveling – cute. But this time tomorrow, after a long nap, I’ll be on vacay and living the dream. I’m unplugging except for snaps for that Gram (duh) and maybe some inspired writing. Going on vacation always inspires me to write, and not just write – but share it too. Sharing what’s going on is a big part of self love for me. When I put myself out there for everyone to see I am saying – “what I have to say is worth sharing and my experience is valuable to others, and maybe I can help!” It feels all warm and fuzzy when people resonate with me too, and since I’m totally a connection/feelings junkie, I’ll keep doing it! Bon voyage beautifuls 💜

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.

Start Up From The Bottom (Now We’re Here) #Hustlers

We assembled at an undisclosed Chinatown bodega at 5am really with no idea what was about to happen. I had heard of Startup Bus being “life changing” and “absolutely incredible” and definitely picked up on the vibe at the night-before departure party, but words can’t really describe the epic-ness. I’m sitting in the Nashville airport awaiting a delayed flight back to NYC, already having mega fomo that I’m not dancing up a storm all over Nash-Vegas (this is a real name) with my Startup Bus fam right now. Considering starting an Indiegogo to fund my flight cancellation but alas, part of me is also looking forward to heading home to sleep and take a real home-style shower. You know what I mean. I’ve collectively slept 3 hours on average the past few nights. Last night I plopped down on my hotel bed expecting to take a 2 hour nap, woke up 4 hours later and decided to call it an official night of rest. Thirteen hours later, I was ready to get back into it.

I can’t describe what just happened. I got on a bus with 30 strangers, we each pitched ideas for start up companies and somehow, less than a week later, we are like a big family bonded by our common survival (and voluntary commitment) of an intense, and at times traumatic, experience. I’ve never pushed myself to such extreme limits, and over multiple days, ever before in my entire life. I guess it was life-changing to see what I’m truly capable of when I’m focused on the end goal. The manic energy of the last few days materialized into an incredible team united under a shared dedication to winning the contest but what developed along the way was what surprised me most. At times I asked myself, do I really want to stay up till dawn writing this Indiegogo campaign content and shooting another pitch video? This is all a game, after all, right? But the truth is – it wasn’t just a game. What we created is real, the strategy and implementation plan is real. We really created something truly original, that stands to make a huge impact while addressing a real market inefficiency. Plus share.ed helps so many people by creating new educational and economic opportunities. Sure, we had fun ideating silly ways to get early Twitter traction but it was all underlying real passion and investment in making a memorable impact. We didn’t just create Tinder of camping or the Airbnb of restaurants like some of our earlier twitter ploys joked.

shar.ed

Of all the experiences of Startup Bus, I can’t really select just one as the most memorable. I learned so much about myself and what I can truly contribute to a team. I’m so glad I didn’t follow my flighty premonition a few weeks ago that doubted going on the bus at all because of my lacking hacker experience. I am a hustler, through and through, and Startup Bus was the perfect spot for me to own it to the fullest.

Now onto my favorite ramblings on the trip: 

  • Finally made it to Detroit rock city. Impressed by how beautiful it was amid total dilapidation and erie abandoned buildings in its downtown financial district. Had the most amazing brussel sprout salad with more bacon than I could handle. Slept 4 hours max. The next morning we checked out Tech Stars where we got to pitch and work on some more content development. In my case I was just happy to have an outlet, wifi and some coffee. I wrote our mission statement, set up the blog and wrote another value prop outline in what seemed like a flash of light. All I know is I can pump out the jams as long as the vision of what I need to communicate is clear. What a cool exercise to see what I’m really capable of and what it takes to get to that point.
  • I’ve never written so much in such a short period of time! I have over ten multiple paged notes filling up my computer, certainly enough to make a baller business plan. I have a pitch outline to die for – so on point, if only we had energy slash foresight to put it into a deck for our first round presentation. You know what, I’m okay with not progressing through the entire competition because ultimately I got to sleep and enjoy time with other cool hustlers on the scene. What is meant to be will be and maybe Startup Bus just wasn’t ready for shar.ed’s big vision this time around. It’s the farthest thing from failure actually. We won in so many other ways.
  • The day on the bus after Detroit felt the longest. Maybe it was the lacking sleep. Although I got very little sleep before our very first day, with the heightened pressure of executing a real vision added on to the exhaustion – everything was intensified. Each day I wasn’t sure where we would be headed. I’m not sure if that was intentional on the conductors parts or if maybe I just wasn’t paying attention because I was so hyper focused on getting work done. Regardless, our arrival on day two to Ohio’s coolest startup (Cover My Meds) was such a welcomed surprise. We had real food (bahn mi and sushi) plus actual office space with wifi and outlets – it felt like a dream! It’s amazing how only two days of being on a bus can make you feel like you’ve been gone from civilization for years. Maybe it’s a New York adjustment thing in particular but the difference was palpable.
  • Later that day we were back to the grind, working out our company vision, user flow, monetization strategy and pitching whenever possible to refine our delivery. I was on a high I haven’t ever experienced. I felt like I was in the zone. Like THE ZONE – the one pro athletes must refer to when they’re getting psyched to go into a game. I was so tired and uncomfortable at times but couldn’t stop grinding on the work ahead even if I wanted to.
  • We crashed super late in Durham (North Carolina, come on and raise up), which did you know has a mega thriving startup scene? Me either. We started the day off bright and early after another short sleep at American Underground – a Google enterprises sponsored co working spot home to some seriously cool companies. We got some great pointers on monetization and user acquisition and I rolled my ankle on a super hidden short step, bumping right into the CEO that had just presented to us in the process. Suave.
  • Day three got really real, and fast. Other teams on the bus already had working demos, prototypes and legit designed websites and social pages. I was impressed. What a talented crew! I think what I started to appreciate on this day was the incredible power of teams coming together to support each other, communicate exquisitely and frankly just rally to get shit done amid less than ideal circumstances. My team mate Ryan, for example, had terrible motion sickness (as did many others) but still managed to give me a much needed step by step refresh of setting up a Facebook ad campaign on power editor. I couldn’t believe how good he was at teaching. Then I remembered he’s an instructor at General Assembly and felt less surprised. Nevertheless, everyone was in it to win it. I felt proud from the get go of everyone’s sheer dedication and the universal sense of being all in. Sure it was a game but we didn’t play like it was. We were playing to win.
  • Our friends on the bus who launched what seemed at first to be a bit nebulous – a virtual reality experience providing a getaway from the everyday bustle of life – actually got investment even before the final pitches! They balled so hard they couldn’t even make their final pitch because of investor interest – but they thanked the judges for the opportunity and then mic dropped so hard it hurt. Suddenly it wasn’t just a game anymore, it’s a legit mechanism for getting noticed (slash getting paper).
  • The long night in Nashville was the most intense. I drank a Red Bull to stick to the grind and ended up staying awake till dawn. Hadn’t done that in awhile and certainly never because of writing and working on work-related anything. Reminded me of being in college and cramming before a big paper deadline but even then I wasn’t as passionate or invested in what I was working on. This was easier in that respect. The adrenaline of being so close to pitching, having survived a three day bus trip across the northeastern U.S. and having a legit, impactful, purposeful business plan to share fueled us to no end. I must have gotten two hours of sleep. Pitch day was next, our moment of truth and our chance to see how far we had all come since our first pitches on the bus leaving NYC. 

What’s there to say? The talent, creativity, vision, contagious energy, dedication, community and sheer hustle speaks for itself and then some. Startup Bus-preneurs are game changers. Even if our companies don’t get worked on after the competition, we’ve all come out stronger, smarter and more empowered than before. No one bailed out, every single person brought it 100 and helped prove what’s truly possible when people work together to create the future. I’m so excited about what we’ll do next! Whether it be in our startup bus companies, our jobs, our communities or simply in our relationships – we are going to bring a whole new light with us to inspire others and move them to reaching their full potential. At the very least we’ll move someone with our crazy insane stories of the most ridiculous adventure of all time. Will I do this again? Next year? Ask me in a week when I’ve gotten caught up on sleep. Part of me feels like this is the kind of thing everyone should experience at least once. Lastly, the theme song of the trip is officially dubbed Start Up From The Bottom Now We Here (the remix). 

Pre-launch party On the bus - brainstorming UX Launch Party in it to win it detroit tech stars typical real talk nashville reppin it typical nashville up all night to code accelerate nashville hacking it up always be pitchingtwinz studio 615 hackers shar.ed ladies NRA shar.ed team breakfast 11393199_10205816671550310_162881668807833843_n 11257236_10205816672230327_4458793589188526923_n 11350421_10205820770452780_6753849344493127924_n 11163765_10205820788533232_8101063107973037569_n

Here We Go: StartUp Bus 2015

BUSpreneurs 6.3.15It’s all happening! Tomorrow I depart on a bus from an undisclosed downtown NYC location at 5am with approx. 30 other peeps I don’t really know to co-create what could be the next big start up, app, world changing product, you name it – the possibilities are endless! Over the next couple days we’ll cruise to Nashville, hacking along the way to develop our dream companies and products all for a chance to win big at the pitch competition on Monday. Oh, and did I mention there’s 6 other buses leaving from different cities across the US (even Mexico City!)?Plus NYC is on a winning streak for two years in a row, so no pressure or anything.

How did I even find out about this? Pretty serendipitously. It all started with a chance meeting at the WIRED Business conference in May. A cool chic I met referred me to her company site, which led me down a rabbit hole of other similarly cool sites focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. I stumbled upon the StartUp Bus and thought, why not apply, not knowing much about it except that it looks like the adventure of a lifetime. Soon after applying, the WIRED #girlboss replied to my bus application saying she’s not only a bus alumni but also happens to be conducting this years NYC trip! Meant to be? Surely.

The more I learned about the bus and story behind it all the more I realized there’s nothing more perfect for me to be doing RIGHT NOW. Lately I’ve felt such a strong influx of creative energy, almost restless at times, pushing me to create and strategize everywhere I can – I’ve got to channel this energy somewhere! And how perfect is this – the bus is divided into entrepreneurial types:  hipsters (designers), hustlers (business savvy magic makers) and hackers (developers, programmer gurus)….Guess what I am?

I met my fellow bus-preneurs tonight as well as a few alumni from previous years – super fun and energizing to schmooze before our big getaway! I am super grateful for friends that came to send me off, for a dream job that supports me in following awesome dreams to experience unheard of adventures and for all my collective life experience that has prepared me super well to effing bring it. I can’t help but feel like something big is on the horizon, something truly groundbreaking. In the very least I’m excited to make awesome new friends, see just how much can get accomplished in just three days and what magic is truly possible wth a dedicated team committed to grinding our little hearts out towards a unifying goal. I promise I’ll have some wild stories to share after Monday! #WatchOut ❤💜

Por favor, stalk me all you want + follow our adventures via the Bus’ live stream😎💯🌷

Daily Dose: Truth + Travel

barcelona

Don’t downplay your abilities now, Libra. You’re on the brink of greatness, so act like it. Things should go quite well if you let them. Don’t clog up the works by thinking that you’re unworthy of the good luck that is sure to come your way. If things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to, take it as a sign that the situation wasn’t right for you anyway.

Sometimes it’s as simple as subscribing to daily horoscope updates to remind you of the truth.

I’m going to Barcelona in less than 2 weeks and it feels like a dream. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I’m finally making the trip! Truthfully for a long time I believed that there were many things preventing me from going – namely student loans, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, an inability to save consistently (for a long time), and my healthy budget for self care and entertainment (gotta be healthy and have fun, duh!). Somewhere along the line my old frame of mine shifted into a new plane wherein I am no longer waiting for something to swoop in and save me from student debt and expenses. Instead I simply started saving and took responsibility for making my dream happen – and it wasn’t even that hard!

I’ve found a few tools incredible helpful in the process – including Mint.com, regular check ins with my checking account, and using a CaptialOne 360 savings account to auto-save each week towards my goal. Oh and definitely Hipmunk for my flight alerts – always my go-to for finding great flight deals. It only took a few months and I’m off to an incredible adventure!

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

Expect the Unexpected

A friend of mine sends out an email blast at the beginning of each week, sometimes missing weeks here and there. These aren’t just any old newsletter notes. He sends a collection of empowering, inspiring quotes and overarching positivity-laden reminders of everyday wonder. Unrelated to this but perhaps not at all is my bus ride last night. Waiting for the B67 to take me up Park Ave to Vanderbilt so I could quickly make some salad for dinner before heading to my friends house for our second DJ lesson felt pretty normal. I got on the bus, an ordinary situation filled with other passengers eager to get to their respective destinations. It was, after all, still cold out – where is spring these days anyway. I think I see it creeping up!

Suddenly a voice sounded over the bus intercom. At first I thought it was someone’s cell phone blasting YouTube or some kind of audio book turned all the way up. To my surprise it was the bus driver. He started telling a story about how his daughter called him last night, and at first he thought she was just calling to ask for something. She went on to explain that you never know when everything could just simply stop, in a flash, in a moment where everything ends. Boom. You’re gone. She called to say she loves him and she’s grateful for everything he does for their family.

Next we heard about his six year old grandson whose teacher called one day to say, “Excuse me Mr. Campbell but did you know your grandson was praying in the cafeteria at lunch? We don’t pray anymore in public school but he was praying,” as if to elicit some kind of Pauloconcern. The bus driver retorted, “That’s all fine and well, what were you doing while this was happening Miss?” “I was praying alongside him,” she replied.

I don’t know if this bus driver shares these kinds of messages on every bus or on every day he’s driving, who knows. Maybe he’s a preacher by day and driving the bus is just his side hustle. Or maybe driving to him is the same as preaching – in doing so he’s helping to spread the gospel of love and gratitude to people who need it most. Sometimes I can get caught up in the distracted and stressful energy of NYC life, wherein everyone is moving so fast you can hardly tell where they’re headed anymore. Sometimes the rate race can feel normal when really its not even a race, since races usually have destinations or end points.

The bus driver reminded me to stop and take a moment to be where I am. Suddenly I wasn’t on my way home to rush through dinner and get through my nightly activities. Instead I was making eye contact with those around me similarly amused by the surprising outburst from our transportation provider. I conversed with a fellow rider on how awesome it was to be sharing in such a fun experience. We smiled at one another as we parted ways. I thanked the bus driver so much for his kind words. Could everyday be like this? Could each bus ride emulate the camaraderie and positivity felt on the B67 that night? I want it to not be so hard to remember these simple truths.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is within yourself that you will find strength. When we are broken wide open is when we are given the pivotal choice of tapping into our power.
– Odette Artime
“Getting it” means getting out of your own way.
– Chandra
“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
― Maya Angelou
Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
~E.B. White