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

“Can You Stand the Rain?”

Beautiful write up by a dear friend of mine, the talented, magical Brittaney. Time to get inspired and remember the sunny days, weathering the storm, and how much we have to celebrate.

“Can You Stand the Rain?”

 

Side note: Does this remind you of Missy or what?

Morning Gloryville NYC 7.16.14

image_2Set your alarm for 5:30am, or 5am if you’re super committed and mean serious business. Then lay out your most colorful, preferably glitter-clad, fit that you’ll feel comfortable in while busting out your fly-est possible moves. Encourage friends to join in the cause and readily accept moral support along the way, since getting up at the crack of dawn to rave is no easy feat. Group texts are helpful for discouraging your crew from abandoning the early wake-up call ship; be sure to lure friends with outfit pics begging feedback. You’ll be too excited to sleep (ever again).

Ring goes your alarm but chances are you’ve already just woke up, ready to greet the day head on. Today is a big day, after all. Get ready to hop the bus, train, bike, run over (again, only if you mean serious business), or hire a chauffer (oh, you fancy huh). Like they say, it doesn’t matter how you get there, what matters is that you show up. Upon first arriving to your Bushwick destination, you might likely think: “Wow, this is real seedy,” or, “I am definitely lost.” But fear not, follow the looming sounds of the vibrating house beats and you too will soon be disco dancing with the best.

At a cool 6:45am-ish I wasn’t totally sure if I was still dreaming or if I had stumbled into a Burning Man pre-compression party still in full force from the night before. But my intuition knew better. I had arrived and there was no turning back. The UK’s Morning Gloryville hosted its 4th NYC event this morning from 6:30am-10:30am at the most epic acrobatic (also art gallery / music video set / massage parlor / coffee shop / smoothie bar / rooftop yoga studio / magical wonderland) center Brooklyn has ever seen. According to personal preference, each guest is greeted with a high-five or hug before getting shown the inside-scoop on the morning’s various attractions, sights, and sounds.

Don’t worry, if you get tired of dancing to ultimate house music with live drum circle
accompaniment, you can always check out the rope swing with the option-to-land-in-a-trampoline-over-a-ball-pit or climb onto a platform to switch up the scenery and dance with the mile-high club perched up above. Raves these days come with all sorts of negative connotations, which is why Morning Gloryville stands out with its substance-free fun policy completely fueled by coffee (Brooklyn Roasting Company represent), delicious smoothies and unlimited positive vibes. If you find that living the absolute embodiment of #yolo appealing, then this might be the place for you. Spice up your morning gym routine, kick your life up a notch. What are you waiting for?

Follow @GloryvilleNYC on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!

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Stop Trying So Hard

ImageReframe every thought, word, and deed from the perspective of the person you’ve always dreamed you’d be, as if your life was already as you’ve always dreamed it would be. Die to yesterday’s illusions and be reborn to the truth of your vision.
TUT, a note from the Universe

I don’t know what Id do without my daily notes from the Universe, sent by email of course. I need reminders constantly that there’s a great big world around me that continues to spin with or without any effort from me to push it along. Sometimes I can feel like I’m on my own planet and it’s up to me to make all the moves, everything’s livelihood and future is wholly dependent on my decisions and actions.

What a weight to carry, isn’t it? If someone else told me that I’d immediately want to instruct them to take a long break, a nap even. Get some rest and stop carrying that weight. You don’t have to keep trying to do this all alone. Not every single thing, every other persons destiny, every outcome, hangs in the balance like you might imagine.

Call it a consequence of growing up in the digital age, the millenial era, or the culture of instant gratification. I want what I want now and to be really real I wanted it yesterday. Time is a ticking and everyone is succeeding faster than my LinkedIn homepage can track. I’m running out of social platforms on which to measure myself against my competitors. I want to know I’m on the right path but most of all I want to know everyone else thinks I am.

Maybe if I knew everyone else thinks I’m on track, I could finally feel like I too can believe it. What I’m learning is, contrary to my deeply engrained belief, no one else knows where I’m going or where I’m meant to go. They can’t tell me what I really want to hear. To this day my attempts at activating my supposed psychic mind reading powers remain futile.

And so I start with my morning notes from the Universe, sometimes peppered amid my Libra daily horoscope for kicks. I try to embrace this new perspective in which I’m not at the center of the world I created in which everything rests on my shoulders. I don’t have to carry the weight, and neither do you. None of us do.

Personifying #Ideals

Gatsby Party Let’s face it: you know within five minutes of talking to someone if you’re on the same page and if you ever want to see the person again. I think that’s the truth of it. I’ve had so many interviews and conversations the past few months I swear I’d make a stellar career search consultant (seriously could be an epic side hustle). Dating analogies aside, which totally work for job searching by the way, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned has to do with finding your tribe or the people you choose to join forces with.

People often write to-do lists to get organized, but have you ever crafted a to-be list? Use this tool to define what ideals and traits you seek to embody. Use it as a guide in determining relationship standards in your personal and professional livelihoods. I have and the benefits are immense. Approach your vocation and professional cohorts like you would your dearest friends. You’ll be spending a lot of time together after all.

It all comes down to the people. You can work for the coolest, trendiest company and have a stellar, super prestigious title but if you can’t connect with the people you work with on a genuine level you won’t come close to feeling happy or fulfilled. When you connect with people you sense you have a lot to learn from, who you admire and respect, whose feedback you will take seriously, who you’re not afraid to approach with challenging questions—look no further, you’ve found your in.

As far as my ideals go, I stay on the prowl for people who embody the traits that I too strive to emanate:

  • Make direct eye contact
  • Honest communicator
  • Not afraid to ask difficult questions
  • Genuine caring attitude
  • Engaged and dedicated in work aspirations/projects
  • Clearly communicate values and purpose
  • Help others achieve growth and success
  • Positive attitude that empowers other people to thrive
  • Collaborative and approachable

Simple enough, right? Ideals aren’t supposed to be perfect rules. They are simple guidelines for growth. The kind of change I seek for my engrained tendencies and attitudes can sometimes feel slow but as long as I keep striving for growth, I’m on the right path.

Northside Fest Innovation 6.13

My Friday the 13th started out in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park where Northside Fest set up its home base for a week-long South By Southwest-style conference on innovation, film and music. Complete with after parties and concerts galore over the entire week, the festival is in its fourth year running much to the delight of musicians, innovators, digital media nerds, start up gurus, marketers and entrepreneurs alike.

Northside Fest SwagThis year it literally felt like the East Coast hipster cousin of Austin’s SXSW had officially landed in Williamsburg. My friends over at Small Girls PR hooked me up with a badge to attend the Innovation portion of the program, where I hung out all day Friday. The panels were creatively situated nearby one another with main attractions at the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn Brewery, Kinfolk Studios and the trade show at McCarren Park. Lucky for all attendees Mable’s Smokehouse served up a delicious complimentary BBQ lunch midday Friday. The BBQ never tasted so good but in hindsight might have been a precarious choice for conference-goers expected to pay attention and not immediately need a power nap.

The panel “Preparing to Pivot” showcased  inspiring entrepreneurs talking about their experiences with changing directions and sometimes starting over along their start-up quests. Many spoke to the fact that failure and making mistakes are just part of the start up game. If you really believe in something and are willing to put the effort into it, you don’t ever give up. On the flip side, they also spoke to the importance of knowing when its time to give up on a particular direction and change your strategy to stay afloat. Did you know AirBnB used Craigslist at one point as an early customer acquisition strategy?

Zappos’ presentation on “Throwing Out the Organizational Chart” provided an overview of holocracy. To better foster innovation, Zappos suggests that corporations will do well to model the information-sharing and communication styles offered by cities’ infrastructure. I almost understood the idea, but must admit I might never truly get it until I experience  holacracy first-hand. Talk about new age-y organizational style. We’ll see what Zappos rolls out with results-wise this year following a more full implementation of holacracy. Perhaps their case study will prove fruitful for pushing other companies to adopt new communication mechanisms and management (or lack there of) structures. What about hashtags in employee titles (i.e. #title) to symbolize the fluid-nature of each position’s description? Sign me up.

GE

My favorite panel of the day was a fireside chat (without a fire) with TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha and GE’s Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing, Linda Boff–“GE’s Secrets Revealed: Their Top 5 Marketing Innovations.” Did you know GE was the first brand on Vine? I appreciated Linda’s candid honesty about how she likes to be promiscuous with advertising and marketing agencies in search of the best storytellers. She made a nod to agencies focused on doing what they do really well, and not getting lost in the crowd of big agencies trying to do many things just-okay.

GE’s secrets turned out to not be so secret after all, but they did provoke some great insights. Be first, be human as a brand, tell a GREAT story, be helpful, and measure success by engagement. All good tips, especially the encouragement throughout to be uniquely useful and stay true to the brand’s integrity. I’m already excited for next year–expect the tech, entrepreneurship and innovation elements to be bigger than ever and attract tech stars from all over the map!

What’s Stopping You?

ImageIf I answer honestly it’s usually always me.  Fear is my worst enemy keeping me from pursuing my dreams.

A friend recently recalled a day when a life/career coach facilitated a workshop on finding your passion. The coach asked a group of women to go around in a circle and each announce what they’re most passionate about. Many responses indicated apprehension at having to share such personal information albeit with a group of people that might judge. Most women explained their passion prefaced with “Oh I don’t really know but..” or “I’m not really sure I have any idea.”

The second part of the exercise challenged the women to take the same question and instead reflect on their answers by writing silently for a minute. The second round of shares indicated a startling clear truth: each person intuitively knows their passion. Sometimes it’s just scary to say what your dreams are out loud, especially if they seem incredibly daunting.

Think about what you would do in a heartbeat if you had a day to spend doing anything your heart desires–without money, responsibilities, peer pressure or validation in the mix. What makes you happy and fills you up with purpose and joy? What are you doing when you feel like you’re in the right place and in tune with the world around you? When you’re in that place look no further because it’s likely you’re doing what you’re meant to do. You have arrived.

Now the question remains of just doing it. Maybe you know that working with others in a volunteer or non-profit capacity is what fills you up but you’re afraid that starting at an entry level non-profit position won’t provide enough for you to survive (trust me, I’ve been there). Sure, that’s a possibility for the short term but be hopeful. If I’ve learned anything it’s that doing what you’re meant to do can make difficult work look and feel easy while others might look at you wondering how you do it.

If you’re in the groove and dedicating yourself fully to your passionate ambition, trust that you will be provided for immensely, I promise. Trusting your instinct is so hard, but once we practice doing it, it becomes easier. You might eventually start to remember that most times you have all the answers you’re looking for. You’ve  known them all along.

Be Good, Go Give

LES Girls ClubWhy is it cool to be a do-gooder? I’m learning more and more that I am drawn to people who do good. Not just in their charitable pursuits but in their everyday lives and businesses.

What are you doing good? What is your company doing to give back? What can you do differently each day to give something that was given to you away to help someone else? I don’t mean in the material sense. I’m talking in the wisdom sense. What’s an important lesson you’ve learned that changed you and how might you share that with someone else to help them in turn?

For me a big lesson I learned rather recently is that the desire to be seen and recognized (validated really, let’s be honest) is never going to be fulfilled by a job, a title, a relationship, friendships or what city I live in. The validation I’ve (sometimes desperately) always sought after can only come from within. This might sound obvious to some but to me it came as a groundbreaking maybe even earth shattering revelation.

I learned that I am the only thing ever in my way, the only entity preventing me from fully enjoying the present moment–which is all I ever really have anyways. I constantly try to make sense of where I am based on regrets of the past and worries of the future. But maybe I just don’t know and won’t ever know the answers I’m looking for. There is relief in accepting that truth.

Since none of that stuff really matters validation wise anyways, why not spend time with people you learn from and people who help you grow? I am drawn to givers and do gooders precisely because of their intrinsic air of growth and change. It’s impossible to hang around movers and shakers of the charitable variety without feeling inspired and pushed out of your comfort zone into evolution and through the fear that comes with treading the unknown.

They say some change is slow, which I guess gives you time to savor it. That’s what I’m working on lately anyways, I don’t want any more of my life to pass me by as I chase the future and try to mitigate the past. Everything is happening as it should and it has been long before my time. It’s my turn to sit back, relax and enjoy it as it all unfolds. Doesn’t hurt to do good and help wherever I can along the way.

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!

Interviewing: The Remix

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

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

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

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

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