What My Psychic Said

Hello World, 

I was in Washington DC this past weekend saying goodbye to some of my closest friends from college, and I thought it would be the perfect time to stop by a psychic* that one of my friends has visited a handful of times to get a palm reading done ($5 special!) and see what she thinks is happening/going to happen in my life. 

*I should note that I have never been to a psychic before, so this was a first and another "pushing limits" experience for me!

I dragged my best friend K along, and when the door opened, I shoved her inside first. (What if something bad happened? ….so much for facing my fears or being a good friend). Her session was short and sweet, and I was far less afraid to face my future after she came out looking calm and unscathed. I mean, how bad could my future be anyways?

Clearly I didn't really think about what I should expect because she could have easily said that my life was spiraling into a nightmare and to hold onto my hat. But she didn't (thank goodness!).

 Here's what she said:

- I'll live until 89 years old
- I already have met my soulmate
- Whoever I like now is NOT my soulmate
- but I won't start dating them until 1 year and 4 months from now
- and then a year later I will start my family
- I will have 4 kids; 3 girls and 1 boy
- In three months I am going to leave my job...for an even better opportunity
(may or may not require moving)
- Most of the hardships in my life are already behind me
- I will do best if I leave my past in my past

Well, that's about it...other than I hope almost none of it is true!

I, of course, cannot even fathom up a "better opportunity" to the job that I will be starting later this month, so unless Chelsea Clinton needs a full-time nanny for her impending first child or I've been slated for the next UN Secretary-General, I think I'll be staying right where I'm going....thank you very much!

Also...four kids is a lot of kids. I'm not saying I don't want kids, but four sounds aggressive. How do you even move around with four kids? I would need an industrial-sized vehicle for the rest of my life! So I'm also hoping that's not true.

And I've met my soulmate? WHO IS IT? Is it my favorite waiter at Nandos Peri Peri in Washington, DC? Someone I met in college but didn't like? Someone I waved to out my window on a roadtrip? THIS IS TOO STRESSFUL -- SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Men in my life, be warned: You may or may not be starting a family with me within the next 3 years (or less).

So that's that. It happened, things were said, and hopefully, not everything in life is propelled by fate, so there's still a chance that she's wrong. Or maybe now that she said it, it'll unconsciously come true. Maybe I shouldn't have blogged about it in order to remember it all...

In better news, while I was in DC I picked up a record-breaking number of pennies and dimes, and I am certain that the fact that this was hanging outside of the psychic's office was a sign that it was worth doing.

And as one of my closest friends said after I fretted over my apparent future brood of children and possible job-quitting: "I believe that your future is what you make it". Which is really what this blog is all about: expanding your horizons and making conscious decisions to live the life you want. 

Have you ever been to a psychic? What might be in store for your future? 


Kickboxing "Can't" to the Curb

Hey world,

If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you might remember that back in March, I challenged myself to start going to the gym regularly and to begin kickboxing as part of my effort to begin living intentionally. 

My days at the gym were short-lived, (mainly because I don't like the aesthetic/vibe of gyms and gym culture) but for a couple weeks I was a diligent patron: cycling, rowing, walking elliptically (whatever that does), climbing staircases.  

In April, I started kickboxing, and though it was akin to a swift kick in the pants, I immediately loved it. I was lucky enough to find a place that felt right, with an instructor that had equal parts tough-funny-motivating, and a supporting cast of KB buddies on my first attempt. Had all of these things not come together perfectly, I'm not sure if I would love kickboxing as much as I do.

This guy never gets in on the action;
just watches to make sure I don't stop before the timer goes off!

Moreover, kickboxing brought Empowerment back to the table, and forced me to come back face-to-face with my old friends Discipline and Reflection. There's something utterly badass about carrying your boxing gloves around New York City 4-5 days a week and have people look at you and think "That girl? She's a fighter." There's something even more badass in knowing how to perfectly wrap your hands so you don't get calluses, doing non-stop crunches without your back touching the mat, doing staggered push-ups for a minute without having to go to modified, and getting to the end of a rep and thinking "That's it? Let's do it again."

I've got a mean left hook and an even meaner right cross. I'm pretty sure I've got a femur-breaking roundhouse kick. I never leave my face unprotected. My daily goals are precision and endurance, with power coming as a close third.

But the other thing I love is that there's something deeper than happiness that resonates after 50 minutes of punching and kicking the stuffing out of the bags, and looking over your shoulder at 'your powerful self in the mirror' as you begin to warm down and stretch out.

Its in these fleeting moments of direct eye contact that I see a person in myself that I never knew I would find. Someone who leaves the house with no makeup on, who owns her sweatiness, who has pushed her body past its previous limits, who doesn't take "I don't know how" or "I can't do that" for an answer.

I only have two more classes left to take here in NYC before I have to continue on my own,  but I know that even after my leave my favorite East Village MMA studio, instructor and sweat-BFFs, my life in gloves won't come to an end.

My first day with my gloves -- World, beware!

Like I said in that earlier post, I used to never exercise. My history of fitness is a lifelong series of quit attempts: gymnastics, baseball, basketball, soccer, dance, golf, yoga. I was the girl who was always picked at the end for teams in gym class, who was afraid of the ball, who would rather say "I can't" than "I'll try". Part of it was my fault, and part of it was a string of coaches who were driven by wins and competition than skill-building and praise for effort.

I never tried to stink at sports. Growing up abroad I learned how to play all of these games that no one hear knew about (rounders, roller hockey, netball) and preferred to ride my bike or rollerblade or swim for hours than go run around a field indefinitely chasing a ball I'd only kick/hit once in awhile. When I moved into the American school system, first abroad and then here in the US, I realized quickly that I had apparently already missed all of the years where it was about learning and training -- 6th grade was already too late to join the volleyball team or soccer or basketball (though I tried) because at 13 I was somehow already at the level of hopeless.

Between the mantra of my hopelessness becoming abundantly clear and my stupid asthma, I quickly became a sponge to the voices that told me I couldn't. Even worse, I started beating the mantra to the punch. Who wants to be embarrassed when they go up to bat and miss the softball by a mile AND a minute? No, it was better to walk up and scoff at my own inability and give it a half-hearted attempt before taking my place at the back of the line again.

Can't. Can't. Can't.
I just can't. 

Things changed a little when my dad and I started climbing mountains together in 2010, but I when asked about it, I would always be demur: "Well, it's really just like walking. Anyone can do that".  Even though I could (with Fuji, Kinabalu and Kilimanjaro under my belt), I still believed in the almighty Can't.

My Can't days lasted an impressive 23 years and 10 months.
My can days? 3.5 months and counting.

What would my Can't self say now? In just three short months, I can do back-to-back hourlong workouts. I can run a 5K with 9 days warning. I have started planning my travels to places where I can climb mountains/hike for pleasure.

I can because I started listening to and believing in the only voice that matters: my own. 

When you find your voice and isolate it, you'll find your fitness niche too.


I Want To Read Your Biography One Day

Hey world,

As I was coming home from dinner today on the train, a young boy (maybe 10-12) stood in the center of my subway car, quietly turned on his boombox - just loud enough so we could hear the song, but deliberately quiet enough that it wasn't annoying anyone - and without asking for anyone's attention, started a dance/performance.

I peeked a glimpse of his dancing, and then went back to reading my book. But something inside me shifted; this was a young boy, riding the trains at 10pm, with a spark of determination and selflessness. I was enraptured. After he finished, he collected donations (to whoever offered it, he didn't ask), turned off his music, and took a seat.

Photo by Georgina Gomez, a great NYC photographer (credit)

The woman across from him asked him a question, and he came over to her to answer. In that moment that he bent down to respond, we locked eyes for a second before we both looked away.

I wondered if the opportunity arose what I would say to him - I wish I was strong enough to ask for his attention so I could find out more about his life. What were the series of events that brought him to that particular subway car, on this particular night, the same time and place I also found myself in?

Of course, as I was mulling over all of this, it was my turn to get off the train, and with one last backwards glance, I walked away from this dancing boy, whom I will probably never see again. 

As I walked home, I continued to rack my brains over what I would say to someone who I wanted to both emotionally support and empower, something more than "You're a good dancer!" and less awkward than "I believe you can be somebody!"

Then it hit me. It's exactly what I hope someone one day will tell me. 

"I want to read your biography one day."


Dear boy on the metro,

I want to read your biography one day because I hope one day your story will be written down. 

I hope you write about the moments that molded you, the moments that unraveled you, and the moments that made you whole again. However, as much as I am interested in where you came from, I am far more interested in where you are going. The possibility of your future is infinite. I look forward to the day where I might find out which of life's paths you chose. 

I want to read your biography one day because its my way of showing you that I care. It's me telling you that I think you are important, that you are worthy of documenting, that your story deserves to be told and read and thought about and shared. I appreciate your being.

 And this isn't because you're a young kid dancing on a train; I wish I could read every person's biography -- everyone moves through life in a different way, learning different lessons and experiencing different highs and lows. But some people wouldn't be interested in telling their story. Some people have temporarily lost their determination for better.

But you, I know you haven't lost your determination yet. I know you have the fire within you, the zeal to accomplish, and the fortitude to move through this world with nothing less than humility.

Do not move through life thinking that all of your decisions won't be noticed or acknowledged, because I am here to affirm that they will. There are terribly random people like me, and those around you who love you, who do.

But do well, and do good, not for us, but for yourself. Just know that I'll be rooting for you...

...and that I want to read your biography one day.

Make a life worth living, and live a life worth reading.


Packing for Permanent: Living With Empty

Hey world,

One of the terrible things about moving is that, well, your belongings actually have to find somewhere else to go. And in my case, because I'm moving to another continent, most of my stuff has to find its way into someone else's life.

This past weekend my mom was nice enough to drive down from Upstate NY and take a carload of belongings home with her -- mostly the kitschy knick-knacks that I can't bare to part with, and a majority of my clothes/shoes. 

Everything that is left in my apartment will either be sold, donated to Housingworks NYC (an organization that provides a wide range of services to homeless and low-income men, women and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in New York City), or coming home with me in July in one of two duffel bags. 

Suffice it to say, my apartment is prettttttty empty right now. I keep walking over to put on my make-up in the mirror that isn't there. I've sat on the couch to watch Jimmy Fallon and realized I no longer have a TV. I went to grill up a quesadilla today and noticed my grill pan was noticeably absent. 

My staged photo for my for sale posters!

The good news is that I only have a couple more weeks living with the bare minimum before I'm back upstate and having to face the next steps: going through everything I own, purging another large percentage of what I have, and packing my bags for my one-way ticket to TZ!

But until then, I'm spending my time foraging meals from what's left in my closets, assembling bags to bring to Housingworks on Friday, taking pictures so I can post "For Sale" posters for my furniture, finishing up some online certificate courses I'm taking with the United States Institute of Peace, and slowly saying goodbye to all of my friends here in NYC. 

I can't believe that I'll be leaving 5 weeks from today!!


5,000 Meters of Accomplishment

Hey world,

My last post, Race to the Finish, talked about how my (very quick) decision about running a 5K. 

Today, of course, was the big day. 

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was a four letter word (that is best paired with dogs doing a #2). I shook off my initial feeling of dread and put on my running outfit, ate a delicious cup of yogurt, and drank half a liter of water.

I packed up a few things in a bag, and started walking to the subway earlier than I had planned -- I realized that my 'lucky' sweatband was still at my office downtown, and I needed to pick it up before I met up with my friend J at 9.

When I got to the building, the security guard came out and said that no one was allowed inside because of some strange construction project for the weekend. SERIOUSLY?! I could feel the self-doubt in my heart already start to bubble.

Before the 5K began
Then I met up with J and we got on the subway together to head down to FiDi -- but the R runs on a different path on weekends, and before we knew it we were in Brooklyn instead. My heart sank a little more -- THE UNIVERSE WAS CLEARLY SENDING ME MESSAGES.

Determined to not let that voice have space, we made it in the knick of time to the event space, signed in, and nervously half-stretched as the organizers told us more about the cause we were supporting (Komera, check them out!).

Then it was time to run.

The leaders brought us into Battery Park, and we ran North up the Esplanade to Chambers Street, and then U-turned and headed back to where we came from. For most of the first mile, the group stayed together, and we ran at a manageable pace.

Then, the group slowly split as everyone found their stride and stayed there, and I spent most of the time with people I recognized in sight, but not nearby (aka, I was eating their dust). Instead, I took the time to focus on my self, and my surroundings, and every time that little voice in my head said "take a breather, no one will know that you stopped", I reminded myself that I would know, and I kept going.

When I got to the turn-around place, I was pretty sure I was going to keel over.
I had to run all the way back now?!

But I kept going, and at a slow and steady pace, continued to move in a forward motion. I reminded myself that I hadn't heard my 'halfway song' on my ipod playlist -- the one that would signal that I had been running for 30 minutes. That re-motivated me: how close to the end could I get before that song came on?

The other great thing was that J would always stay in view somewhere, and every so often, he would jog in place and wait for me to catch up before we both continued running.

"I'm not going to finish without you!" he'd say.

It meant a lot. And at the very end of the run, I lost everyone in the group I could see. In fact, I started thinking I had missed the turn-off point, and I could just see the headlines "Runner Goes Rogue during 5K and Ends up in NJ Instead of FiDi".

After we ran 3.6 miles! (and why do we look better than before?)
Thank god for J, who came looking for me, and ran with the final 3 minutes to the finish line. As soon as the store came into view, I threw my hands in the air like the marathon runners do, and screamed "I DID ITTTTTTT!"

And I did...and even 5 minutes faster than the goal I had for set myself!

With just 9 days notice, I went from the girl who had never run 1.5 miles without stopping to the girl who finishes a 5K without stopping*.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-tzu

Now I'm trying to decide what I need to tackle next; what plans do you have to change up your routine and push your limits?


* I would also like to note that I was one of 3 raffle ticket winners -- clearly my karma for continuing came back to reward me with a week of yoga classes!

Race to the Finish

Hey world,

On Saturday, I'm running a 5K.

If you know me in real life, you know that I would be more likely to climb a mountain (check), go white water rafting in grade 5 rapids (check), or live for a year without electricity (check) before I would run a 5K. In fact, my being and the word 'run' are complete antonyms. 

Therefore, if you told me even two weeks ago that I was going to run a 5K anytime in the next year of my life, I would have probably said "Ummmm...NO" or laughed at you. It seems just so anti-thetical to my being.

However last week I was chatting on the phone to a friend about how I am trying to challenge myself and push my boundaries, and she was telling me that she was training for some corporate fitness challenge and part of it was a 5K, and mentioned offhand that I would 'never run a 5K'. And on the call, I totally agreed with her. I wouldn't ever run a 5K, willingly or unwillingly. That's not me.

After I hung up and was walking home that night, I started thinking and asked myself: Of all the personal grandstands I could take, why is running one of them?

Well, I've always been a terrible runner. I get asthma before I even loop around the gym once. My shoelaces are prone to come untied. I hate when people are faster than me (which is virtually anyone other than an actual snail). I ran my first mile without stopping when I was 20 years old -- it's been a long struggle. 

I mean, it's kind of a health thing, but if I didn't try to go from zero to gazelle, I could alleviate the chance of coughing.  Really, it's a pride thing. 

Wait, I was prepared to never run because of my pride?!?!?!

Nope. That wasn't going to fly. I went home, googled "5k runs NYC June 2014" and found one that was held Saturday June 14th, 2014 that benefited Komera, an NGO that works on empowering young women in Rwanda. 

And it was just $10 (!).

And the race started right on my subway line. 

It couldn't be more perfect if it tried. 

I signed up, and went to bed. I woke up the next morning, and without any practice, I ran 1.5 miles on a treadmill -- the furthest distance I had ever run without stopping in my entire life.

The game was on. 

For the past three days I have been just outside of Albany visiting family, and was able to go for beautiful 2 mile runs every day along a quiet country road. Surrounded by quaint houses and fields dotted with wildflowers, I listened to my favorite songs with the volume all the way up, and encouraged my feet to keep passing the pavement. 

An action shot during one of my runs (Altamont, NY)

Every day, I ran the 2 miles without an issue. In fact, I always ended it thinking, "Wait, I'm done already?! I could have kept going!" 

...This is coming from the girl who had never run 2 miles ever in her life before Saturday. And that girl is ME.

It was wonderful.

For me, the 5K is not at all about racing. I average a 13 minute mile...it's definitely a jog, and I could actually probably walk faster. But it isn't racing. 

It's about starting and not stopping. 
It's about making it to the finish line from the start line without dying. 
It's about doing what I never thought I could do, with my head held high. 
It's about pushing my limits, and altering my boundaries.
It's about approaching an intersection, and taking the path unpaved. 

I'll be spending the rest of the week kickboxing in the mornings, doing schoolwork all day, and running at the gym at night. 

Get excited for 5K pictures on Saturday! 


...And a Penny for Luck

Hey world,

On April 15th, I was having a terribly stressful day, and I stayed late at my office working on readings and papers. As I left, I was grousing because it was raining and I brought the tiniest umbrella I own, I was starving because I had eaten through all of my snacks hours before, and I still had an hour ahead of me of subway travel before I would be home and able to relax (and eat). 

So I left the building, and with my shoulders hunched, I put my head down and pushed forward. Not a minute into walking, I noticed a penny shining through a puddle. For some crazy reason, I decided to stop and pick it up.

As I was standing back up, I noticed the entire sidewalk was glittering. As dozens of people rushed past me with their umbrellas and their worries, I picked up dozens and dozens of coins, one by one, all the while beaming like a kid in a candy store. No one even noticed what I was doing, they just sidestepped me and my efforts, and moved on. No one even took a second to look down; no one even noticed that they were walking over a handful of dollars. Simply, no one took the time to care. 

Meanwhile, I scoured the space around me for coins. I walked into the street. I scuffed around muddy puddles. I interrogated the crevices of the sidewalk. And I put everything I found in a pocket in my bag without really taking note of how many/what I was picking up. 

When I got home, I put all of the coins I collected on my counter, and was shocked to see that most of the coins I picked up were quarters and dimes than pennies. In the rain and in the moment, I didn't even notice. I picked up over $6. 

My treasures from that night! 

But what was more striking, was that no one else before noticed. 99% of the time, we rush from place to place in our "busy" lives, and don't dare take a moment to soak in our surroundings...to see what we might be missing. 

When we see but don't actually 'see', we stand to miss out on the many blessings that surround us every day. We might be missing out on the big things and precious moments, or maybe it's just something small like a penny.

Pennies are the most discredited of all monies in the US; I had a friend as a child who actually used to throw hers away in the trash. Let me repeat that...SHE THREW AWAY HER PENNIES IN THE GARBAGE, because they weren't worth the effort. People walk by pennies all of the time - particularly if it's tails up. 

After April 15th I asked myself, how much am I missing each and every day? What don't I see that I could be? How many pennies a day am I walking by?

So I made a pact: I will pick up every single penny I see. 

Since then, I have picked up anywhere between 1-20 pennies a day. A couple of times, I have hit the jackpot, finding piles of pennies that people dropped and left. Other times, I find a single penny on the sidewalks of the East Village, of the Upper West Side, on the subway, in Harlem, even outside of my apartment building. Sometimes, I find pennies throughout the day. And I always ask myself, how long has this penny been here? How many people walked by without noticing this penny? How many people noticed it, and left it on the sidewalk instead of taking a moment to bend down and pick it up? 

No day is complete without a penny-sighting, and every day becomes a great day with my new penny in my pocket.

But more importantly, it's a daily reminder to not only look down (on my continual search for coinage), but to look up, look forward, and look around. I've spotted a blimp, I've exchanged smiles with numerous people, I've watched clouds float by, watched the sun set behind the Empire State building, and witness heart-melting moments between couples, parents and children, and random acts of kindness between strangers. 

My penny fanaticism is more than just a penny. It's about a way of moving through the world where every little thing counts.

Will you start looking for pennies? 


The Big Move: Departure Date

Hey World,

It took a couple of weeks to sort it all out, and while I'm still processing paperwork, I went ahead and purchased my one-way ticket to Tanzania today -- and I leave in just FIFTY DAYS!

I will literally be getting on a plane seven Wednesdays from today. 

Cue hyperventilating. {starts breathing in a paper bag}

I'm just kidding, I'm not really that nervous. Or upset. I'm really just excited to begin this new chapter in my life, and the 'bad parts' about leaving will be outweighed by the opportunities I'm chasing for my own growth and development. As I told my mom yesterday on the phone, We all have to live with the choices we make, and the repercussions of those choices. 

I chose to begin a career in Africa.

That means a lot of uprooting has to happen, but it also means a lot of new roots will be able to grow.
It means that while I have a lot of goodbyes to say, I have just as many hellos waiting for me.
It means that while I miss out on special moments here, I'll be part of special moments somewhere else.

So, let the fifty day countdown begin...

and here's to making every one of my last days here worth it!