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

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.

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Note to Self

A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love-from a belief in what is not real, to faith in that which is. That shift in perception changes everything. – Marianne Williamson

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There’s a Meditation Party and Everyone’s Invited!

Oprah and Deepak

Did you know you were born to be happy? That’s what Oprah (yes, THAT Oprah) and Deepak want you to believe. Lucky for you, this dream team is only 3 days into their famed 21-Day Meditation Challenge, all focused on “Expanding Your Happiness.” Try it if you dare to venture into the great beyond, to the greatest vacation of your dreams, to a far away land you’ve always wanted to visit, all without moving a muscle. All you have to do is listen in, get comfortable and breathe. Really, it’s that easy!

I’ve done the challenge a few times now, and can say with confidence it’s an amazing way to get familiar with meditation, especially if you’ve never tried it before. Why do it? Well, for me, meditation has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for getting centered amid the overly fun yet often over-stimulating fast life in NYC. Meditation is an easy way to tune into an oasis of calm wherever you go, because, as they say, wherever you go, there you are.

Thousands of people across the world are participating in the challenge and many are sharing their experiences on the event website. If you feel so inclined, peruse the comments for inspiration, or follow my lead and get everyone you know to try this out. Like anything, the challenge is fun to share with friends—it’s a peace party and everyone’s invited!

–Originally written for the Praytell Strategy blog on 8/14/14

“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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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!

Pura Vida: My Dream Came True

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My life changed forever the first time I ventured out on a one-week solo expedition to Costa Rica. I bought the plane ticket pretty impulsively after noticing a sweet deal on one of the many travel deal sites I stalk. I knew I always wanted to travel somewhere alone but at first I thought I might convince a good girlfriend or maybe a group to come with me on this one. Deep down I knew I would go this alone and see if I had what it takes to survive an absolutely out of this world solo adventure.

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I didn’t prepare as much as some people might have suggested. I perused tourism sites and trusted the country was more developed than where I lived in Brazil in 2009. I figured I’d know more once I got on the ground. At least it would be nice and warm so I could pack light: bathing suits and shorts every day! One of the first places I looked up was Monteverde, a huge area of forest and mountains settled in the mid section of the country. I know I was researching locales in June because it was then that I set my Facebook cover photo to a picture of Monteverde’s famed hanging rainforest bridges (this post’s headline picture). I knew I had to make it to that exact spot even if I didn’t make a plan for how I’d arrive–there was something waiting for me there.

I could barely sleep the night before I was set to leave. I was far too excited. I packed everything I had into a backpack and woke up when it was still dark out, wide awake with anticipation. All I had planned was my bus trip from the Liberia airport to the Pura Vida Hostel in Tamarindo, where I’d spend my first night. When I arrived at the hostel it finally started to really sink in: I was alone in a foreign country and I could do whatever I wanted with a week to spare. I went to enjoy some lunch at the restaurant next door, amazed at how comfortable I felt as soon as I sat down. My waiter started speaking English and even accepted my US dollars all while an American news broadcast was playing in the background.

ImageEventually I met a couple character mainstays at my hostel, Eddy and James. Eddy was from Chicago taking a prolonged break from his start-up whereas James was a surfer from New Jersey who was chasing the waves for as long as he could steer clear of returning stateside. After a few adventures with Eddy as well as some other travelers that would join our escapades here and there, he offered to drive me to Monteverde. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse, especially since I didn’t have any other plans and purposefully left my schedule open so I could see what might come up. I didn’t know it then but this was the trip I had been waiting for.

ImageAfter a bumpy ride through the country side, we made it to Santa Elena where we found an amazing bed and breakfast to call home–Camino Verde. The day we arrived we went zip-lining through the trees and even ventured to try bungee jump ing while we were at it. Eddy would only stay one day, enough to get a feel for the mountains and Santa Elena’s quiet change of pace. My first day waking up alone there I struck up a conversation with the inn keeper and asked if there was one thing I absolutely had to do while in Monteverde–what was it? He said it was my lucky day and if I was game I could hop in a van coming by in 10 minutes to take me on my next adventure.

Trusting my guide’s recommendation, I hopped into the van filled with Spanish tourists eager to explore. We stopped after a 30 minute drive up a big hill into what seemed like an epicBridge expanse of rain forest. It was really a nature preserve filled with canopies, gardens, natural sights, wildlife and trails throughout perfect for self-guided walking tours. I started out on my own while purposefully trying to walk slowly to make sure I would remember every moment. I suddenly felt grateful to be alone to savor this experience.

After walking a bit, snapping pictures of beautiful plants and butterflies along the way, I arrived to a critical stopping point where something suddenly clicked and I was overcome with emotion. There in front of me was the exact same hanging bridge I had come across when first researching Monteverde many months before. Without a concrete plan to reach this place, the symbol of my solo Costa Rican adventure, I made it there–perhaps the universe was guiding me. Before my eyes, my dream became a reality and I continued my tour with a renewed sense of purpose, abundance, and gratitude that I was delivered to the place my imagination had conjured up all this time. Sometimes I get what I want and sometimes I don’t, but no matter what happens, I am always taken care of. Perhaps the same is true for us all. The rest is pura vida.

 

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Getting Off The Ground

Meditation has changed my game. I’ve officially been out of my full-time job for 3 weeks and pursuing my own independent consulting business for the very first time. I am on the precipice of what feels like a major change, a change that could set in motion a huge re-routing in terms of my career and future. It feels so right True Love: Meditationin so many ways, like I am being guided along a new path that’s already been pre-determined for me.

Meditation has helped me reconnect with my inner self and strengthen the most important relationship I will quite likely ever have. I am in touch with my intuition, which is where I derive this security and sense that I am in fact moving in the right direction. This foundation helps prevent me from filling up with fear while at the same time helps propel me forward towards realizing my dreams. Suddenly the things I was once most afraid to take on I’m pursuing full steam ahead with the faith that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

I used to feel like these types of talks, words and terms were off-limits for someone like me: an intellectual, a cool kid, a hip hop aficionado, a city kid hopping around from shows to parties to late night escapades, someone “too smart” to believe in the spirituality thing. I’ve since learned that I was operating under a lot of preconceived notions and assumptions about which I actually knew very little. That and I practically had no experience even giving it a try. I meditated in yoga classes before and always found it easy to do after an intense work out, but never in my spare time when I could instead be active, indulge or do anything else but sit still with myself and my thoughts.

I find guided meditations really helpful, as well as group meditations hosted by NYC entities like Dharma Punx and Center of the Cyclone. There is something about the shared energy in a room full of people all committing to the same purpose that I can feed off of, that makes me feel safe to fully focus. Right now I am trying my best to follow the free 21 Day Meditation Challenge hosted by Oprah (my girl!) and Deepak Chopra.

Spirituality is all your own, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The thing is, you’ll never know if you’re missing out on something that might really change your life for the better–unless you give it a try. Taking the plunge and trying it, despite how goofy it might feel at first, is the hardest part. I just know that I wouldn’t feel as confident and optimistic about my newfound plunge into dream-chasing if I didn’t have this foundation. I can tune back into it anytime, anywhere for energy and reassurance and it keeps growing so long as I keep practicing. I don’t know how else to describe it but pure magic–magic that tunes me into the universe so I can be present for everyday miracles.