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

75074f30-4654-4cc5-b694-afac6394b85b

On Commitment

I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment lately. There are so many things I want to do – sometimes I don’t even know where to begin, or other times I don’t begin at all for fear that I might not finish or, worse, I might not do it perfectly.

I hear it again and again: just start right from where you are. Today I’m remembering to listen to my instincts and intuition which tell me to put some footwork into my dreams. That means I need to study, learn, meditate, reflect, write and practice. I haven’t written in quite some time I think because I’ve had a tough time figuring out where to start. It’s funny how having to think something all the way through before even starting can prevent you from taking action at all. Self-sabotage for me is the fear of not being perfect or not having something I’m super proud to share and broadcast to my network. Not everything has to be perfect. In fact, so many things worthy of sharing and discussing rarely are. It’s the imperfection in things that we relate to that creates community, encourages vulnerability and fosters strong connections. Perfection might be something to strive for, but I have to remember it’s not something I can actually ever attain.

I’m inspired by the recent news bites surrounding Essena O’Neill, the famous insta-model who recently caused a major uproar by posting honest, critical messages across her wildly popular Instagram account exposing the truth behind her modeling career. She, like so many others of late, is sharing honestly about the fallacy of social media and how much tireless work goes into creating a facade of effortlessness in beach-laden imagery and seemingly happy-go-lucky smiling photo spreads. I love everything she’s saying – and just as I was about to suggest you check out her feed, true to her announcement earlier this week, it looks like she’s officially taken it down. Her website, ingeniously titled “Let’s Be Game Changers” ignites a call to action for her fans and onlookers alike to share from the heart, be real, support ethical brands and causes and mostly, connect authentically.

In our hyper connected age of digital everything, it’s too easy to connect with one another at a second’s notice. But are we really connecting? Perhaps the contrary is true. Social media has made it all look like we’re uber-connected but really we’re overwhelmed by options for connecting and in the distraction of choosing the best way to get in touch, we’re excluded from real connection. We’re texting, Face-timing, liking, commenting, scrolling, quoting and tagging but are we really having genuine conversations? Are you asking your friends how they’re really feeling and being open to helping out those in need? Are people sharing on social media what’s really going on or simply putting their best face forward since that’s the image that looks like it will get the most validation? I’m totally a victim of this current paradigm, but I think it’s important to bring to light. After all, it’s what’s kept me from sharing lately even though I’ve felt a definitive pull towards writing and sharing.

Here’s where commitment comes into play. I’m committing to sharing honestly and being vulnerable as a way to inspire others to feel similarly comfortable with being themselves. I’m excited about the current discourse around connection, vulnerability and imperfection, especially the inspiring pieces from Elizabeth Gilbert (amazing podcast inspiration for her book “Big Magic”) and Brene Brown (if you haven’t watched her TED talk on vulnerability, hop to it). I’m thankful for all the people in my life and networks that are doing similar work encouraging people to connect authentically and demonstrating how doing so can be incredibly healing in so many ways. We have so much good work to do!

Commitment to your dreams is an act of Self Love

Commitment to your dreams is an act of Self Love

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

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

Savvy Girls Know Their Personal Brand

UWIB BoardAt least I think I do! But there’s always room for improvement. Already lots of fun things happening on the UWIB NYC front this year, excited to be a part of such an amazing 2015 board making bold moves.

This evening’s content focuses on personal branding, finding your unique voice and navigating career challenges. We’ll welcome a presentation by personal branding expert The Lovely It Girl and then participate in small breakout sessions focused on developing your own personal brand. Come prepared to learn about the keys to living the personal and professional life you love (from the inside out!).

WHAT YOU’LL GET:

  • Actionable steps toward building your personal brand
  • Quality networking time with other UWIB NYC members and the new 2015 Board of Directors
  • Delightful snacks and drinks from our sponsors

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:30 p.m

LOCATION: WeWork Charging Bull, 25 Broadway, New York, NY 10004

Expecting a wonderful crowd. Will post learnings as a follow up. #FUN

Enter the Chill Zone

Is it just me or does time go by faster in New York City? What if time actually moves faster here than in other areas of the world or even faster than just a few miles away where there are more trees and less traffic noises? Maybe a New York minute is a real defined increment of time manifesting as two minutes squeezed into one typical minute experienced by everyone else outside the NYC bubble. Suddenly four years can feel like a decade, which explains a lot.

I feel the difference as soon as I hop out of the train, car, plane – you name it – and take in a few breathes of fresh air somewhere else, even if its just a few miles upstate. Everything slows down, and not just that, but I feel how fast i’ve been moving. My body needs a few moments to recover and catch up with itself, like I’ve been running in a marathon without even knowing it and I urgently need air, water and rest. Sometimes when I go home to SF, I can lay so low and literally laze around for as long as possible to make up for lost chill time – marathon chill sessions of epic proportions. For some reason i feel like it’s allowed – I can finally do nothing without putting any kind of deadline or pressure on myself to be productive again. That must be the difference between the two cultural meccas – legendary chill zone vs. 24-hour ultra productivity contest.

My big goal this year is to open up my schedule for more fun and spontaneity. At first glance I might already be able to claim that my life is full of this kind of magic already – but the truth is, I, like so many other New Yorkers I’m sure, over-schedule and plan out my life like it’s going out of style. Deep down part of me is scared of what will happen if I wake up one weekend and have nothing to fill my day with – what, no plans? No brunch? No friends? What will I DO in that case? I want to shift away from thinking about DOing to instead embodying a mentality focused on BEing. If I don’t have anything to DO, what if that’s when the most fun can finally happen?

Putting It Down To Pick It Back Up

Digital Detoxin

Oh my god you guys, I am taking a digital detox day off of social media. I even might have just tried to cheat on my own personal agreement with myself by almost typing in LinkedIn to do some lurking as though that wouldn’t completely count! Who am I?

I’m working from home today and its so far super productive and cozy working from a warm living room when it feels like arctic tundra just outside the window. Why the decision to detox, even if just for a day? Well I noticed I was spending so much time keeping up with the joneses and checking up on my updates, my own and my friends’ and just random events and curiosities – and lately always before bed. It would all start with a simple idea to check Facebook for an event update as I get a sense for my upcoming weekend calendar, then slowly there I go, falling back down the rabbit hole leading into all my other favorite haunts. Suddenly I look at the clock and notice a whole half an hour had passed, but where did it go?

I don’t want to let time pass me by like that, at least not for today. I feel programmed sometimes to be ultra-plugged in and connected to all plausible life updates in real time 24/7. It very well might be too much and like anything that gets overly indulgent perhaps to unhealthy degrees, its wise to go without for an intermittent amount of time to see what changes come from abstention. So far I’ve felt more focused on my work since I’ve multi-tasked way less than usual, I feel more present and I’ve even taken time to write a blog post, which – if you’re checking out my archives here – hasn’t happened in a hot minute (2.5 months, sadly). My incredible capacity for fomo has also subsided, maybe I’m growing out of it?

Here’s to getting re-focused on fun writing I love – it’s never too late to re-commit to the things that matter most. I love the image for this post so much. Sometimes it takes disconnecting completely to reconnect to what’s most important. Strip away the distractions and escape mechanisms so you can see what’s been trying to get your attention all along. Pick it back up again, hold tight and don’t look back.