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 💜

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

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😎💯🌷

You Do You, I’ll Be Me

Scratch that trusty old to-do list. In fact, tear it up and try this instead.

Ever heard of a to-be list? Consider it an exercise in changing your mindset. I don’t know about you but tasking myself with limitless to-dos is so deeply engrained I rarely notice I do it all the time–even subconsciously.

Change the way you view yourself and what you’re truly capable of. Put your dreams down on paper, then visualize them coming true. Dreams are terrifying, especially when you have really big ones.

 TBTI took a stab at writing my first to-be list and here’s what I came up with:

  • Help people always
  • Create, lead and develop a business built upon providing service to those in need
  • Make my family and friends proud
  • Be honest
  • Always tell the truth
  • Feel like I am doing what I am meant to do
  • Present a TED Talk
  • Become an acclaimed artist/writer with respected opinions and insights
  • Be a community leader
  • Be the tour guide host for an epic family vacation somewhere magical
  • Be an explorer of the world
  • Become a fluent speaker of French and Arabic
  • Become a scuba diver
  • Be a surfer in Indonesia
  • Become a familiar traveler through Latin America
  • Become a practitioner of meditation in Tibet and India
  • Be a marathon runner, at least in NYC and SF

I instinctively first wrote many of the above as to-dos, no matter how hard I tried to explain in “be” or “become” terms. Try it, you might surprise yourself!