Monday, October 11, 2010

Words of Encouragement

Because we could all use a few…

This is your life. Right now! It is not a dress rehearsal. No. This is the final show. Every decision, action, thought, reaction, regret, and idea is determining your current and future self and life.

You can’t wait around for a door to open or someone better to come along. You have to force your way into the world that you want to be a part of and into the lives of the people with whom you want to find company.

Don’t take no for an answer if your heart says yes. Don’t let others persuade you that a task or a goal is forever out of reach. If you can think it then you can make it a reality. Desert those who don’t support you and those that enable your bad habits. They are leeches that will always keep you down.

Don’t let your time go wasted, because we are here for mere moments and each second is priceless – treat it that way! Don’t beat up on yourself. Past mistakes are already made. Leave them behind. Believe in yourself. Follow your gut. Listen to your heart. Don’t be taken for a fool, but don’t be foolish enough to not let love in.

Surround yourself with encouragement: at home, work, and with friends. Anything less is unacceptable. Put yourself in an environment in which you want a place, not the one in which you think you’ll fit best. It is human nature to mirror those around us, so choose wisely and always set your sights high. We grow in relation to our surroundings. So don’t settle for inadequate buddies, careers, or mates. Said things define you, and when all is well, nurture you and keep you at your best.

Insecurities are useless. It is those that can reveal their self-doubt that are able to put it to good use. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compete with yourself. Out-do yourself at every feat. This makes for a win-win situation and leaves no one hurt.

It is crucial to keep dreaming and scheming. How else will you devise a plan that is tailored to your life? Plotting a success strategy for the rest of your days should be part of your daily routine.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Life is full of new beginnings: new jobs, new friends, lovers, cities, hobbies, etc… we are forever reinventing ourselves. We shed our skin and outgrow our daily routines that, in the moment, feel destined to last forever. We refresh our look with new clothes and new haircuts. With one change, be it in line of work, exercise regimen, or relocation, there is sure to be a ripple effect in every other aspect of our lives.

Over the past year I have made many changes to my life. The first of which was an overhaul of my diet. A friend of mine influenced me to dabble with vegan eating. I was skeptical of her advice, but have always suffered the drawbacks and reaped the rewards of being an open-minded person, so I dove head-on into a vegan lifestyle. To my surprise the switch was less innerving than anticipated. In fact I found myself excited with the prospects of each days new meals. I started eating vegetables that I could once barely pronounce. I soon became infatuated with avocados, coconuts, and fresh juice. I stopped counting calories and started thoroughly enjoying the food that was on my plate. The change in what I was eating made me feel better. It was remarkable to say the least!

Not a crazy animal rights or pet-loving individual, I found the vegan diet to work well with my physical and emotional state. This in turn led to many other changes, through the so-called: butterfly effect. One change being, my newfound respect for animals, whether from the farm, the wild, or a neighbors apartment. Another product of my new eating regimen, was a new workout routine. Focusing on a nourishing diet made me want to incorporate healthy activities into other aspects of my life. I wanted to be active. I started waking up early and going for long runs. I would leave my apartment at 6am and dart down Broadway before it became a pedestrian’s disaster of slow walkers, women with strollers, homeless men begging for money, and old men with canes. Running helped put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. The endorphins released after a great, or even a mediocre, run are electrifying and truly life-altering.

With my new eating and running I felt reinvented. My body felt better and over time my physique began to reflect said changes, which in turn made me feel terrific! Such changes are minor in the grand scheme of things. It is not like I moved across the country or switched lines of work, I simply made a few adjustments that completely transformed the way I feel each day.

So, if you are thinking about making a change, be it teeny-tiny or grand, you have my support. Sometimes we feel reluctant to take a leap and do something differently because we like the stability of our routines. But if we don’t leave our safety-nets then we will never know what it feels like to fly.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mystical Showers

I have always been fond of the rain. The teardrops of an elusive gray sky carry an allure that is otherworldly. Monstrous winds, booming thunder, cloud shattering lightening, all evoke a mystical feeling in me. Perhaps an exploding sky reminds me of how small each of our lives are in comparison to the great big universe.

I love the calm before the storm, which never fails to fill me with anticipation. While the air is misleadingly quiet and still, people are charging down the sidewalks, ducking into bodegas for last minute grub, hurriedly bolting to or from the subway, in hopes of reaching their final destinations before the storm hits.

The last thing anyone wants, myself included, is to be caught in the midst of a clothes drenching, hair-matting, make-up streaking shower. To be caught in a downpour on your way to the office or a movie or even on your way home can put more than a damper on the best of days. And if you are en route anywhere other than home, you are forced to suffer for hours in clingy, heavy, drenched clothes, that instead of flattering now mock the body, and instead of warming now freeze the body.

In fact, as I write this, I notice that my love of the rain is solely dependent on being in a comfortable, warm place to take in the storms delight. Perhaps the enchantment of such weather lies in the light it sheds on how lucky I am to love my cozy apartment, my refuge from the temperamental sky, where I can make a pot of tea, curl up in my bed, and watch the water fall from my window.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dinner with Friends - Please don't let dinner go unnoticed!

One of the great luxuries of my life is the frequency at which I am able to dine out with my best pals. I know that restaurants are pricey and I already designate far too much of my pathetic budget to food, but dinner with friends is something I will never sacrifice. In fact I cannot wait until I am able to do it more often. I love squishing into a booth or settling in at a table, opening a menu full of tantalizing possibilities, chatting over appetizers and wine, and then gorging over a fantastic meal. Life, for me, is simply about the little things. And food and friends are competing for number one in my book. They will forever tie, because a good meal without good company is a disappointment and good company without indulgence in good food seems sacrilege .

If it were in my budget and fit into my work schedule, I would eat out five times a week, no questions asked. Perhaps I am getting carried away with the extravagance of eating out. Perhaps it seems outlandish to spit out such an amount of money to the restaurant industry. Maybe I sound like I need to be out on the town and seduced by fancy lighting and trendy d├ęcor. This would be misleading. As what I cherish most about eating out is not: being served or having my plate cleared (which is spectacular) but rather the quality time that I can designate to my company and our plates. There is nothing greater than coming together to enjoy something so harmonious at the end of the day, whether it is at a local whole in the wall, or at the comfort of your home or at a friends. The main point is that I think dinner is sacred and I fear that in our hectic lives we often times manage to rush past the subtle blessings that fill our days. Please don’t let dinner go unnoticed.

A Toast to Fall

Fall is nearly upon us. The suns summer rays have lost their brutal strength and it is just a matter of weeks or perhaps just a long weekend before the smell of fire fills the air and multi-colored leaves overflow the streets.

I love fall. I love the clothes we wear: the sweaters, light jackets, and knee high boots, in grays and browns. I love the foods we eat: potatoes, squashes, and apples; their reds, oranges, yellows and browns, mirror the fall foliage. Most importantly I love the feeling of refreshment that comes at this time of year. Perhaps it is due to youth and the school calendar. After years of starting anew in September, the habit is ingrained.

I bask in the fall energy, speedier than that of summer and abundant with cool vitalizing breeze. People finally have places to go, back to school, back to work. This time always revitalizes me. It gives me a newfound sense of purpose. I recall back when I was in middle school. I would brim with excitement over buying school supplies. I loved blank notebooks and never-before sharpened pencils. I would even organize, securing my pens and pencils in the designated side slots and placing each notebook and textbook in a backpack, so as not to disturb any of the pages of my notebooks or paperbacks. I was careful to preserve the materials that I would reference from then on. I entered the school building at the beginning of the year always with a new outfit, an organized set of supplies, and high expectations.

As an adult I still have this sense of a clean slate. I bathe in the possibilities of a fresh outlook. I see the orange start to trickle down the treetops and a wave of anticipation floods me. I feel the same eagerness I did as a child. Now my excitement doesn’t come from sharpening pencils or picking out a jet blue Five Star. It instead comes from the ideas that such supplies represent – a new beginning. I feel ready for change, hungry for it. I want to put on my best fall outfit and get busy. I want to achieve all of the things on my to do list and then I want to write five more. I want to accomplish more this year. I want to read the book that’s been sitting on the shelf, deal with the credit card statement that has been mocking me from my coffee table, kiss the boy who makes my heart flutter. I want to improve every aspect of my life. And on that note, I am out the door, happy to snuggle in the arms of fall’s embrace!

So, thank you fall! I love you!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Living in New York is unique not only because of what the city has to offer: culture, energy, opportunity, but also for what its inhabitants sacrifice to endure it: mainly space! Nowhere else in the modern world is it considered normal to have a roommate decades after college graduation.

As New Yorkers we give up our human desire for comfort, herding ourselves like sheep on the subway, power-walking down the overflowing sidewalks, bolting across intersections blaring red lights. Instead of a home we settle for a room. We gladly, or begrudgingly, live on top of one another. Hell some of us have even lived in a share situation, where home-life is more like an awkward post-adolescent slumber party.

For those of us lucky enough to have our own apartment, we still feel as though we are living smashed up against our neighbors. If we live in an old building, which most of us do, as the big apple is full of pre-war beauties, that give the city its old-world charm, then we hear our neighbors TV’s, music, fighting, lovemaking, and sometimes, when walls are truly paper thin, even their coughs and sneezes. It is this closeness that makes us feel all at once completely invisible yet simultaneously never alone – the epitome of New York’s glory that is luxurious and depressing. Since everyone must muffle outside noise, huddle like sardines on the subway and swerve around masses in the street, we collectively tune out. Not because we would rather live in oblivion, but because in order to avoid infinite distraction we mustn’t let the chaos of crowds penetrate our fragile beings. But I digress. So let me get back on track.

I have lived with roommates and without, with men, with women, in a share and in a one-bedroom all to myself. When I first came to this city for college, I told myself that I would never be one of those “adults” with a roommate. Perhaps I was ignorant then. Coming from Philadelphia, I saw having a roommate as a situation that culminated when people reached their mid-to-late twenties. I remember working as an assistant at the age of 20 and overhearing grown men and women in their thirties talking about their roommates. I could not believe that so many people would choose to live with someone else. Didn’t they want their own space? Couldn’t they afford to have a place all their own? They were dressed nicely and worked in a midtown skyscraper. Business suits and roommates seemed incongruous. I was puzzled and determined not to end up in a similar predicament.

As an only child, I cherish space. Growing up I didn’t take advantage of the fact that I had my own room, never having to share with a brother or sister. In fact, despite having my own space, I would often choose to be in the same room as my mom. I didn’t need to talk or play games with her. I sought company, not necessarily interaction.

Until recently I thought perhaps I would continue to adjust to living in close quarters only as long as my finances prevented an alternative. I was certain that the second I could foresee signing a lease on an overpriced, miniscule studio, I would race past my roommates to the door, which I would happily close behind me, never to look back.

After 5 years here, during which I have habitually plotted an escape to my private space, something funny has happened. I feel that I have more or less adapted to this notion of communal living. I think of roommates as a necessity for financial reasons, but also as a semi-luxury. They offer what I sought from my mom as a child, company, rather than interaction (which they are of course good for too). They are, if you find the right match, a person or a few people with whom you can share a glass of wine at the end of a long day or enjoy a random night in, watching movies with. They are people that are around, popping in and out, with lives that probably don’t look anything like yours. They are warm bodies that sleep in the rooms next to yours (you can probably hear them snoring). They are, if you are lucky, friendly faces to keep you company, from time to time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Change of Season

It was about a year ago – this same time in March, when you can feel spring in the air, even though it is still barely 40 degrees; the sun demanding attention like she hadn’t in months, beaming her rays through winter’s final clouds.

Such days rejuvenate me. I get this sort of high, I guess from the anticipation of the warmth and beauty that is eager to bud and fill the streets with life and color.It makes me feel all bubbly; as if until that moment a major part of me had been dead, like half of my dopamine supply had been missing, lying dormant.

I become filled with the urgent desire to act irrationally – make plans on a whim, spend recklessly, and blow off classes and other engagements in favor of doing nothing necessary, outside; I want to frolic, skip, and mosey down the streets, jump up and swing from the branches; I want to say hi to passing strangers, and wear a hat so that with every greeting I can remove it, as I bow and give a nod of my head. I want to twirl and laugh and not wear a coat. I want to feel light and carefree.

With this new-formed sense of being, I was where I had spent all of my days since November, at the dog run in Tompkins Square Park, with my puppy Oscar. We had spent at least an hour a day there since I got him. (Word to the wise – when getting a puppy chose spring over winter). The cold had never before felt so brutal. And I had never spent so much of winter outdoors, specifically at the park. Oscar, being a puppy, had an unlimited amount of energy, and in order for him to be well-behaved at home, he needed to be worn out.

I took Oscar to the park every day, sometimes two or three times – we would walk fifteen blocks there and fifteen blocks back and of course stayed there for an hour in between. The only thing that kept me sane and able to bare the cold was the group of ‘regulars’, with whom I would chat – about the weather, dog food, toys, bowel movements, other dog runs, possibly a good restaurant or bar that was worth checking out – anything to pass the time. To this group of familiar faces, who always remained casual acquaintances, I owe my sanity.

It didn’t matter the day, time, whether it was raining or snowing, it was almost guaranteed that I would cross paths with one of my park companions. This day I happened to be chatting with Robby – a skater type, nearing thirty (guess), who wore crisp baseball caps and sported a new pair of kicks every month, despite the fact that he was currently unemployed. I liked him. He was interesting, nice, funny, and I didn’t feel obligated to talk with him ever – he was the perfect park friend. Sometimes we would just wave ‘hi’, or on particularly rough mornings just give a nod of the head, no explanation necessary. Today we were chatting – about what I cannot recall. But I do remember that everyone seemed to be gabbing away – buzzing with excitement, as their best friends wrestled in the dirt. Robby’s French bulldog, Brody, was having a blast darting from one side of the park to the next, grabbing one tennis ball, then swapping it for another, only to drop the new ball in favor of the old. He repeated this routine neurotically – it was hysterical.

Oscar was ferociously chasing some boxer around. Oscar is a Puggle and about a quarter of the size of the boxer. The park hadn’t been so full since fall. Dogs were rolling and running around everywhere. People covered a good third of the benches.

It was 11 am and I had been there for just under an hour. I was supposed to head back to my apartment fifteen minutes ago, so I could make my 12:30 pm class. My spring high killed all chances of getting to school. The fun was just starting at the park and Oscar and I were not leaving early. Plus I couldn’t convince myself that it made any sense for me to spend 40 minutes traveling underground to then sit in a cold seat in a concrete building for three hours. I had to be outside and school was inside. I would go next week.

If I had left for my class I would have missed the foulest thing I have witnessed at the dog park to date. Robby and I were gabbing away when I hear the guy next to him scream “Ew. Ah, nooo.” Then two other voices simultaneously “No.” Robby and I turned our heads to see what was up. Everyone at the run shared a gasp…………………… we watched a cockapoo eat the poop straight from the ass of a boxer.