Halley's Comet - 1986

Halley's Comet - 1986

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My life mission

I'm taking this marketing plan class @ NYU this summer, and last week we talked about mission statements. Our assignment this week was to write up a life mission statement. I'm sure it will change over time, but here is what I came up with today!

My mission for life is to continually keep an open and optimistic mind, learn something from each new life experience, always try my best, try to leave an impression on each person I meet, respect mankind, strive for a sense of balance, give back to those who have given to me, avoid mediocrity, seek new and exciting challenges, continually grow and expand my network, find a person to spend the rest of my life with, find a place where I want to settle down, own a profitable business or have a successful career which will finance my life endeavors, experience and understand true happiness from my perspective, and help others when I can.

That's one long run-on sentence.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Conquering the Big Apple

It’s only so often that I am inspired to write something worthwhile on this blog. Life is always a trip – but not always worth writing about. In fact, this past week has been one long crappy trip. I had a bunch of my possessions stolen from my storage locker, I broke a sideview mirror on my car by backing into a pole, and I injured a muscle in my leg during Yoga. My mom always told me bad things happen in threes, and then there’s also another one of her life proverb: “the sky is always darkest before the dawn.” I love that quote because it’s a physical truth - and you can’t really deny it. Plus it never fails to apply to my life. Before I left for Austin – we had a bedbug problem in the Chicago apartment, and I couldn’t stand one more night sleeping there with the psychological pain that I was itching every night I laid down for bed. When I arrived in Austin, sure enough a stream of wonderful happenings occurred in my life. And once again, The Sky is always darkest before the dawn is re-occuring. I arrived here in the East Village of New York City just yesterday, after one of the worst weeks of my life, and I fell in love with this town.

(Below: My street, entrance to my apartment)

I haven’t felt such a passion for a long time. Austin is filled with simple joys in life - sunny days, beautiful trails, smiling people, and a sense of contentment that is very difficult to find in many other places in this world. Yet, New York City fills me up with a different sense of joy. A joy which I find from the crowded streets of wonder. I wonder where each person I see comes from and where they are going? I wonder if their ancestors traveled thousands of miles across seas hundreds of years ago to settle here in the land of freedom. I wonder if that child zooming by on his tiny sized neon bike has parents at home worried about if he is getting lost in the streets of New York City. I wonder if that that old lady struggling to cross the street with her cane has lived to see this city transform through generations of evolution? I wonder how many of these strangers are having a meeting today which will impact the rest of their lives? And then I also wonder where the nearest yoga studio is so I can take shelter from the craziness that the bustling streets of this city bring to the world that is now mine.

(Below just a few shots of all the people watching)

I wonder and I wander. The streets of East Village. It has been an amazing past 24 hours. I sit here in B cup – a coffee shop with free wi-fi only blocks from my home on E. 3rd Street and Avenue B. The day is winding down, the sky is getting darker, and I am reflecting on all that I took in on this day. My journey began with a destination – Laughing Lotus. A yoga studio recommended to me by my Austin friend Wendy who lived in NYC for many years. I knew I had to get to 16th Street and 6th Avenue, I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. Since this area is mostly a grid, I figured I would venture out and find my way. On the way to Laughing Lotus – my first stop was for a warm coffee. The day turned out to be a bit cooler than I would have imagined. A brisk fifty five degree windy NYC day…nothing like the 95 degree days I had been living back in Austin. I had a choice between Starbucks and MUD coffee: gourmet coffee made in an orange truck parked on the street. Can you guess which I chose? The barista was a bit hung over, but he was really friendly, and he told me that he has an ‘agreement’ with the cops to let him park his coffee shop on the busy street. Free coffee for illegal parking and soliciting. Works for New York City!

(Below: MUD coffee, Laughing Lotus Yoga)

I walked and drank my coffee, trying to balance my yoga mat in my backpack which didn’t zip all the way, and hold my camera on my other wrist so I could snap a photo here and there. The wind had no mercy for a poor girl with all her belongings and hands full, before I could even sneeze from the smoggy air which I felt drifting into my nose, a few drips of coffee had made their way onto the white DePaul hoodie I was wearing. Oh city life…walking down the streets trying to stay warm and balance all of your belongings without bumping into someone or stepping in a puddle, it never fails that your coffee is going to spill. But that stain was reason for me to later stop into OldNavy and buy the zip-up hoodie I had been wanting for a while.

I finally got to the yoga studio, and it was just what I had imagined. The class I took was somewhat difficult, but I was able to breathe out all of the negativity from this past week, and breathe in the life that New York was offering me. When I left Laughing Lotus, I felt relaxed and excited all at once – a feeling of balance which is necessarily difficult to accomplish. Usually one feeling or the other takes over. So I figure this is going to be my quest for the next two months. I figure the newness and endless possibility will keep me excited, but can I add that into an equation with my job, taking a business class at NYU, living in very small headquarters, not having another shoulder to lean on, and still come out with a sense of equilibrium?

Having my possessions stolen last week made me more aware that at any moment everything you have can be wiped away in a split second by an unfortunate fateful occurrence. Which is why you have to make the most of this life, and squeeze every ounce of enjoyment from it that you can. And that is what I have come to New York City for!

I can already feel another dawn breaking :)

Oh...and how in the world can one avacado cost $2.50?!! Looks like no avacado on my sandwiches for a couple of months.

(Below: B Cup Coffee- Where I wrote this entry, and where you will probably find me spending much of time for the next 2 months)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The New UM Album

The new Umphrey's McGee album rocks!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

SxSW interactivities

So I'm finally getting around to journaling about my experience at SxSW. It all started about a month ago when my boss Chris called me to tell me that he was going to be out of town and that he was giving me his badge. The moment I said "cool!" on the phone, I had no idea what that cool really meant. All I knew was badge, conference, festival, Austin...I was going!

When I started looking through the schedule I was overwhelmed. There were tons of panels, speakers, events that were about social media, technology, business, communication, art, self expression, and parties! I thought I was going there to learn...little did I know that the party listings I was looking at were only one fraction of the endless number of parties that were being thrown at just about every bar in Austin. This is the one time of year when Austin comes alive to the max!

When I first arrived at the Austin Convention Center (pictured above) on Friday afternoon to attend some panels, I realized...these things are kind of boring. It's a bunch of people boasting about themselves and promoting their latest book or business venture. I also realized that I needed a GPS just get around the building! The ceilings were tall, the elevators only went to certain floors, and if you wanted to get from floor one to floor four, you had to take the escalator to floor three, walk to the other side of the building, go outside to the stairwell, then walk up to four. I must have walked over ten miles this weekend with all the navigating.

I learned on day one of SxSW Interactive that it's not really about seeing the speakers, it's about the people you meet and the conversations you take part in. So from Saturday on...I roamed around, talked to people about what to see, and hung out in lounges where I ate popcorn and people came up to talk to me because they were drawn to the red coolness of the Vivienne Tam mini netbook that I was using. (below is me typing on my VT mini)

I would have to say the best panel I went to was thanks to Peter Shankman, founder of HARO (help a reporter out). We first talked about how the press release is DEAD. I'm so glad that someone had reaffirmed my feeling from about a year ago when I was interning at a PR firm in Chicago and felt that drafting a press release was like conducting some kind of imaginary magic show where you wave a wand and everyone believes what they hear. All you had to do was use some new and exciting adjectives to make something boring into something exciting. I think there are much more valuable ways to use a great writing talent, and bloggers are finding that out all over the world. So, the idea is...why write twelve paragraphs fluffing up some idea, when you could say it all in 140 charactors on Twitter? Okay, this is an exaggeration, but really, it's time for the facade to end, and the excitement to begin. And Peter Shankman is one man who knows how to make things exciting.

I can't even begin to express how enthusiastic he was about what people had to say. For those of you who are new to twitter, you can watch this short clip from the Today Show and find out: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/29772038#29756189
But anyways, everyone has their laptops out, they are on twitter, and they are writing their thoughts about what people on the panel are saying as the presentation is going on, and Shankman is up on the stage, reading everyone's tweets and responding to them. A live silent conversation (silent conversation - is that an oxymoron??) was going on while a live presentation was going on above that, and they were simultaneously adding to the substance of the whole thing. It was just insanity. The point is, the insanity of social media has just begun, but it is fun, it is real (you can't ignore it) and it's not about rainbows and butterflies, it's reality happening in realtime, and people all around the world are talking about it 24/7. If you are not in the conversation, then people won't know who you are, and you will be competing with all the folks who are part of the conversation and are saying meaningful things and have listeners all over the globe. I could go on a long time about the ups and downs of all of this, but I want to get back to my story....(pic above of me and Shankman, PR and social media experts)

Some other elements of the story include being part of a video, meeting some awesomely passionate people, going to the ER, and chauffeuring friends around Austin.

My story ends on a Tuesday night, when I met up with a friend who is a music blogger. His text to me read: "I'm on the corner of 5th and congress with sandwiches and sparks on me. what u doing?" So I met up with him, drank a Sparks (combo of energy drink and beer) and got to see some shows that night. It was a totally different crowd Tuesday night. Out with the geeks, in with the hipsters. SxSW interactive was all the cool geeks, and SxSW music brings in all of the music loving hipsters. (See below picture. That's how my brain felt at the end of five days of technology talk surrounded by TypeA personalities, mixed with creative awesomeness, and a dash of margaritas and beer...in no particular order)

All in all, I came away with some great conversations, hopefully some good business contacts, a field trip, and some lessons about social media and where we might be headed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Winning The Race

This year I decided I wanted to do something healthy, something new and adventurous, and something that would take me completely outside of my element...so I signed up to train for a half marathon. From day one I got comments from some like..." you are going to carry that caboose of yours 13 miles?!" and "The human body is not meant to run long distances like that" Not only was I hearing doubt from those around me, but internally, each time I ran and looked down at my feet I would think..."Where the heck are you going?!" and my mind would shout "I'm tired! let's go home and go out for a beer with friends!" Somewhere within the cloudiness of doubt I was able to make my way through five months of training, and hundreds of miles later, I reached my first finish line at the 3m half marathon on January 25, 2009!

It was my birthday that day, and the sky was a perfect cloudiness so that I wouldn't have to sweat so much. My family was in town this weekend to cheer me on at the race, so of course, getting to the race at 6:30 AM was a hectic event. Any time you involve my family in anything, things are like ten times harder than they have to be. I got to the race in literally just enough time to get my bib, tie my shoes on tight, go to the bathroom, and wait for everything to begin.

The first two miles were pleasant, because right away I (literally) ran into my running buddy Varsha. We kept each other company through the first two miles, at which point she said, "feel free to speed up if you'd like. You don't have to slow down for me." She had been in India for the past month and her training was not up to par, so she figured she would take it a bit slower this race. A couple minutes after that, my feet had picked up and I was moving faster. I was alone for the rest of the race...my mind thought about all kinds of things, mostly positive thoughts.

here are some of them.... "Happy Birthday to me, I can't believe you've made it this far, such a healthy thing to do for yourself, you have trained so long- good job!, did you ever think in a million years you would be running in a half marathon?, how did you get here?, look at all the people cheering you on - they don't have to do that, wow, this is a really nice world we live in, oh hey look there's my ASHA team members cheering me on and wishing me happy birthday at the halfway mark...HI FIVE!...the fundraising you have done is going to help imrove the lives of so many children in India, if you can run 13.1 miles think of all the other things you can accomplish in your life"

After the halfway point, I knew the route for the rest of the way because we had run the last seven miles the previous week, so everything was familiar. I was so thankful for that, because I was able to guage where I was in comparison to the finish line. The positive thoughts just kept coming as I coasted along for the next six miles. When I got to mile 12 I tried to speed up. But my legs could not physically go any faster. So I slowed back down again. If there's one thing I have learned from my yoga practice, it's that you have to listen to your body. The mind and body have to work together...because the health of both rely on one another.

When I saw the finish line I began sprinting. It was so exciting, I felt my heart swell with joy, and as I write this chills rush through my veins. As I crossed, they called my name and the announcer even said Happy Birthday. Thanks to my brother who had told him that it was my birthday. My brother and mom were there to give me great big hugs and flowers at the end, and that made me so happy and grateful for the support I have from my family!

Running a half marathon was a great birthday gift to give myself, because there is nothing that celebrates life more than accomplishing something greater than the number of years you have been alive. Sometimes we forget that we deserve to accomplish great things, and the routines of dailiy life can often take us on an endless rollercoaster where we feel such lack of control. that's why doing something like training for a half marathon can be so good. Here is something you can control in life, and here is a way to do something fulfilling and accomplish something that no one can take away from you.

All and all I feel like I have had so much success in my life so far! I must admit that I didn't really race this half marathon, that I didn't even care too much about the time and there is no way I could ever win a race! But heck...I do know that I can look back on my life with this accomplishment, and still know what it feels like to win!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sweet Home Austin

I could be feeling stressed right now for the fact that I just got home three hours ago to find that my car battery is dead because I left my lights on for the two weeks I was gone for the holiday, or even because I found my mom's cell phone in my pocket that I managed to take home from Chicago and now have to go mail her. I could even be killing myself over the fact that my laptop almost got stolen at the airport. But instead I am cooking myself some pasta, writing a blog entry, and feeling content to be back to where I now call home: Austin, TX.

It is strange to call such a new place home, yet when I returned back from Chicago, a sense of comfort was restored in me. I think this feeling comes from a connection I have found here with my true sense of self. I physically and mentally embarked on a journey away from my past, away from my family, and have discovered so much. And going back to be with them, I learn so much more.

I love my family dearly, and had a chance to learn more about them this holiday as we ventured over to a distant cousins house for Christmas this year. I found out that my great Uncle served in World War Two as head of a P.O.W camp when he was only eighteen years old. I also found out that my Mom's father had graduated college when he was only 18. My great grandfather was the head of a large grain elevator operation in a small town of Okabena, Minnesota, and my grandma was kicked out of her school because she refused to wear stockings when it was a hot day. What an interesting family tree, and we haven't even gotten to the Jewish side of the family yet.

My mom's mother was Protestant Christian and my mom's father was Jewish. At that time, it was unheard of to have interfaith marriages, but they went against odds and pursued their love for one another. Thanks to their strong will, I am alive today!! So you see, I come from a very dynamic family, and an even more dynamic city. Which brings me to my next topic: The phenomenon of Chicago in the winter! But I'll save that for my next entry because I don't want to keep you here too long.

Happy 2009 everyone!