Wherever you are, Be all there.

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I am learning to be in the present.

People today are connected to those across the world the same as those across the street, and at an instant. Social media has made it beautifully easy to communicate with any and everyone, allowing for fruitful relationships and rekindled connections. But it has also made us distant to what is right in front of us. It seems harder than ever to remain present in today’s technology crazed society.

Be honest. How many times have you been with one other person and both of you are head down on the phone? Maybe you were even talking to one another but you were also liking a friend’s post or chatting with someone far away on Skype, checking work emails or searching the web for a fun café where you could go to together. Whatever multitasking you’re doing, you are most definitely not in the present.

Recently I have noticed this taking its toll on my job. I am in sales in the city of Manhattan where most days it seems the present is already in the past and I am always swimming upstream while looking down…at my phone of course 🙂 Multitasking is a skill that was necessary in obtaining this job, but I find it is harder than ever to focus on one single task. To have an actual conversation.

So last week I tested myself. While talking to a client one afternoon, I closed my phone cover, flipped my watch over so I couldn’t see the time and let myself get lost in conversation with him. Maybe there was an email I was missing, perhaps I was going to have to listen to a voicemail when I left, but I was in the moment and able to really connect with this person, asking questions and listening to the answers (REALLY listening).

My tip: Take a deep breath and appreciate the person you are with at that moment or the task you are doing. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Sleepy Head

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I am in a rut that is leaving me exhausted. I just can’t seem to get out of bed in the mornings. Whether I am trying to squeeze in a workout, finish emails, plan for my work day or just give myself a few extra minutes to read or relax before the day begins, I always choose to hit the snooze and crawl back in bed.

I’ve tried to put the alarm on the other side of the room. I still just get up and then back in bed.

I’ve tried keeping my shades open throughout the night to ensure the sunshine will wake me. This sometimes works in getting me up, but not out of bed. I tend to lay there basking in the sunshine instead 😉

Most recently I decided to sleep in my workout clothes so that I would wake up ready to jump out the door and hit the trail. This failed. Even a compressing sports bra has failed in getting me out of bed people! It’s that bad.

And this horrible routine of mine is beginning to take its toll on my energy and enthusiasm levels. I know full well that exercise in the morning is the best way to put on a happy face and feel energized. I know that giving myself  a few extra minutes in the morning to plan my day and eat right will help decrease my stress levels throughout the work day. But it seems I ignore everything I know and continue to curl up in bed morning after morning.

I’m not sure what it will take to get myself on a quality morning routine…maybe living near the beach? Probably not but I’ll use that excuse to move to one.

Growing up and out of the Fairy Tale

I used to believe in the fairy tale magic of true love. That we all had that one prince charming we were destined to be with. We would, no doubt, eventually find this person based on the circumstances of life and we would know (because of an undeniable feeling) that it was the right match.

Then I grew up, dated a bunch, had my heart broken on more than one occasion and began to reevaluate. There was a time in college when that reevaluation was extremely cynical. I’ve grown up past that and cynicism is not what this is about. Love is beautiful and it surrounds us everyday in many forms. I believe in it and I am glad for those who have found it in a life long husband/wife. But here I am in my mid to late twenties, single and wondering where that spark of a man could possibly be and if I let him pass by already.

Have my friends who are happily in a relationship just worked harder at finding the matches to light the fire while I was waiting for the fireworks display to begin on its own? And what about the sparks for the wrong people? Was that just gas? 😉

Being knee-deep in wedding and engagement season is most likely the reason for such contemplation on my part. You really can begin to feel like the water of opportunity (and potential suitors) is being drained around you with each announcement or invitation and soon you will be left as the dead fish on the dried up sea floor. That coupled (pun-intended) with the fact that I just watched P.S. I Love You, which is arguably one of the most gut wrenching movies about passionate love.

“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted!Where is he?”

“Who, the White Knight? That only happens in fairy tales.”

Mornings

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I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about getting up earlier than normal to seize the day.

Oddly enough, my New York Magazine was also featuring notes about early risers and things to do and experience in the early hours of NYC. It was a great article and inspired me to use my day to the fullest, even if it means getting out of bed earlier. I’m actually thinking that it may be the best time for me to write.

For most of my life, my days started very early. I was a competitive swimmer, which meant jumping into cold waters at 5am most mornings. So you might assume getting out of bed is a piece of cake, but let me assure you that it is not. I am not and never have been (even as a swimmer) a “morning person.”

All of that being said, there is something special, productive and peaceful about an early morning run, read or cup of jo. So this year I’ll try to capture more of the early to experience more of the peace.

Do you get up early to get certain tasks accomplished? Do you get up early for exercise? What about a simple pleasure or time alone?

Reflection on Feelings

I am not sure if I have ever been in love or simply lust. I guess I’ll know whether or not the times before were simply passionate moments of lustful feelings or actual love that burnt out too soon, once I am involved in a relationship that lasts. But that is a story not yet told.

Whatever these past relationships might have been, I know the blissful feelings I felt and the agony that tagged along when they were through. These are emotions that are depicted so vividly in the movie “Like Crazy.” I particularly remember watching “Like Crazy,” when I returned home from France, a bit heartbroken in more than one way to be honest. I must have watched the movie 3 times within a weekend and each time my heart wrenched with the raw emotions these characters feel. It was painful to watch but I wanted to watch it over and over; to feel what I was feeling in my own life through the story. Have you ever been there?

Well tonight, with an unbroken heart (!!), I turned the movie on again (the first time since that weekend) and it was so refreshing to not have those deep-seated feelings of longing and sadness electrifying through my core. I guess it goes to show that time heals all wounds. I’m thankful for that.

This clip below was and is one of my favorite parts.

**This was not meant to be depressing or anything. It was just a thought I had mi-movie and I wanted to share. Simple as that.

Soon Central Park’s leaves won’t be so green…

What a whirlwind life has been since my return from vacation in France.  It took me longer than I expected to share my tales from that trip with you, but a lot has been happening here in NYC.  First and foremost, I was homeless. So that was a complicated situation if there ever was one.  I must explain this predicament of course.  You may remember way back when I was planning my little vacation to France that I was living life as a freelancer and that my apartment’s lease was coming up to the end and after a break-in and some management issue, we weren’t positive if another year was in the works for us.  True to my denial tendencies, I decided to ignore the apartment thing and just focus on ending one job (my first real NYC job which was really just a temp position and didn’t pay enough to live in the big city) and going on my trip to France.

When I got home, life’s problems were still looming.  Duh.  So with a new freelance career (I was writing and balancing multiple part-time PR/Marketing gigs) and about two weeks until move-out day, I frantically began looking for apartments with my friend.  I suggest to never look for apartments in NY when you are on a huge time crunch.  Long and extremely stressful story short: I learned a lot about realtors, lost some money and came away with no apartment to show for it.  During this time I hit a stress level that I didn’t know existed and was unable to be productive freelancer; I was completely frozen in stress.  Looking back on this it’s a shame I couldn’t balance it all because I loved being able to do multiple jobs, make my own schedule and be involved in projects I was passionate about, all of which were creatively free.  But it is what it is and I just couldnt get my act together freelancing AND searching for an apartment that I didn’t have a budget for anyway.  So I took a step back, asked a few friends and family for favors (like sleeping on their couches) and focused on finding a full-time job that paid enough to support life in the city while also allowing me to follow my passions.  My networking from the past 8 months paid off and without the stress of an apartment search, I was able to really make things happen quickly.  I ended up taking a job at a wine and spirits importer/distributor doing their social media marketing.  I’m still adjusting but so far so good.  With the job figured out, I began searching for an apartment again.  Lucky for me, a few friends linked together and all of a sudden I was signing a lease to live in an affordable place with lots of room and with girls very similar to myself.  Golden!

So I am currently enjoying my last evening as a nomad**.  I am so thankful for friends and family who have taken me in, given me advice, believed in me, listened to my woes and put up with my indecisive and sometimes stubborn ways.  A few weeks from now will mark my one year since moving back to America from France.  I cannot believe that!   So much has already happened and I havent been in NYC for a year.  I can now understand how this city makes people grow up at such an elevated pace.

**I wrote this last week.  I am currently moved into the new place in Hoboken.  I hope to find a nice balance between days working in NYC and nights relaxing in my new home.

Stop and smell the flowers

Life can really knock you down sometimes.  For me I am most likely going to be swimming up a stream backwards with my head under water (yeah, that’s my version of being knocked down!) when I don’t balance things.  Too much focus on one thing and not enough on another=eventual break down.  Due to my love of doing new things, being social and acting on a whim, I can often forget one (or several) compartment(s) of my life.  I tend to overload on one thing (“go hard or go home” was always my motto in college) meaning some little boxes in my soul don’t get attention.  And then they get mad.  And we have a problem.  I can usually function for a while in this way but there will always be a moment when I snap out of it.  The resulting action can be positive (I realize what is happening and adjust accordingly) or negative (I have a panic attack)…its a toss-up.

I have found that exercise is my cure-all!  I spent the better part of my life working out at an intense level.  As a swimmer early in the morning and after school in the afternoon I would jump into a cold pool.  I spent hours staring at a black line on the bottom of the lane, repetitively doing laps.   This seems boring as I write it but it was therapeutic for me.  It was what I looked forward to when I had a bad day because I literally was able to shut off the world (easy when your head is submerged under water) and turn off the turbine speed wheels in my head.  The best was after these long workouts, when I would feel those endorphins kicking in.  I was calmer about whatever was bothering me, or I would feel able to tackle whatever it was I was wrestling with.

Although I am no longer on a swim team, and I am not waking up in the mornings to work out (thank god!), I still find that I NEED to get my heart rate up during the week to keep myself balanced.  I will automatically know when I havent been on a run in a while because my mood reflects it.  My thoughts piling up on my mental to do lists will begin to get the best of me.

Even with being aware of my need for exercise, it’s hard to make the time when there are millions of other things to do and not enough time to do even the most important tasks.

Lately, with my move to NYC, my job search, my financial situation, my friend search, my nomad lifestyle (is that enough yet…), I have not had time to even think of putting sneakers on my feet.  I got into a pattern of sleep, work, food, bed.  When I had an extra minute I tried to be social with friends and events, which I feel are important for the balance as well.  But they also exhaust me and when I had no “me time” (exercise time) I was loosing myself.  PS-when you’re job searching/selling your skills, losing yourself is the last thing you want to do.

(spoiler: a “snap-out-of-it” moment is about to happen)

I broke (snapped if you will) the other night.  I had enough of my mind’s noise and enough of putting others first.  I got home from work and although the sun was setting and my stomach wanted dinner, I laced up and went on a run.  A real run ladies and gentlemen. Not a jog. A run.  Full-out!  It was exhilarating and when I got home again I had put the puzzle pieces together in my head, sorted out some issues I had pent-up, and was ready to get the rest of the week back to my terms!  Please note that my problems were not SOLVED by a run, however, it did take my head out of the dark hole it was in.

Research shows that what I’m describing is nothing grandiose (here and here are articles on the subject).  I realize I am not breaking any boundaries with this connection of exercise and stress.   I, however, think that it is important to find our own balance and when we are over loading one part or another, we must get home and go for a run (so to speak)!

Taking the bus alone, or something profound like that

I often make myself do things.  It seems a little funny saying it out loud but I literally make myself do things that I don’t want to do.  As if I am my own personal nagging mother**.  I tell myself that I know best and that even though I don’t want to do whatever it is I’m telling myself to do, I will thank myself later.  It’s kind of my stepping out of my comfort zone moments.  Am I the only one who has these conscious mental conversations?

I realize I might have just lost some readers as I sound like a crazy person, but I swear I’m not.  DON’T LEAVEEEE ME! OK enough.

Last night I had one of these “parenting” moments with myself.  I am a member of FIAF.  I paid the membership fee so now I feel like I want to get the most bang for my buck.  I enjoy going to the talks and events–that’s why I joined.  They can however be taxing after a long day of work.   Tired and hungry at 5pm, the last thing I usually want to do is travel to the Upper East side and attend an event, no matter how cool.

Tuesday nights are cinéma Tuesdays and they are free for us members.  I had never been and I really wanted to go but come 4pm I felt my eyes grow heavy and my stomach begin to rumble.  I wasn’t meeting anybody for the showing so it wouldn’t have been a problem to cancel on myself but I knew that I would love the movie and love being surrounded by French language once I got there.  So I made myself go.  I rewarded myself by walking uptown instead of taking the subway so that I could go into every single Zara on the way (Go in.  Not buy anything. This is key).

I was happy that I went, of course (the movie was great).

I know myself well and even though it takes energy to get myself moving, I find that forcing myself out of these comfortable boxes is all the more rewarding.  How do you think I found myself living in France for a year, or moving to NYC without a job, or letting go of my inhibitions and going on dates with strangers, or eating Tête de Veau (this is a story for another time).  I think we must try things (preferably jumping in with two feet) and if we don’t like the outcome, or if we somehow fall short of where we wanted to be, we haven’t failed but we have tried something new.  I’ll try anything twice!

I also made myself take a bus last night.  I like doing new things (have you noticed?) but that doesn’t mean that I like feeling vulnerable the first time I’m doing it.  For the bus, I didn’t want to be “that girl” who didn’t know the protocol of bus usage.  After living a year abroad however, I learned that eliminating this prideful handicap is the only way to learn new things and be adventurous.  In France my mistakes were many and my “dumb” questions frequent,  but I grew enormously as a person and had amazing experiences by taking chances.  I still find myself nervous before doing new things (I’m human), but I make sure to DO them–this is where the nagging mother’s voice usually chimes in!

So I asked a stranger (favorite pastime from France) if I was waiting for the correct bus and if I could use the Metro card to board the bus (this would be considered the dumb question I guess).  Although I was totally 1) that girl who didn’t put her pass in the right way so the driver had to physically do it for me and 2) that girl who didn’t know you had to push the door open to get off, I survived and mastered the bus system.  It’s nice to knock things off the list of “things I haven’t yet done.”

So maybe I am crazy.  Maybe I think too much into things and talks to myself, but I don’t care because this go-hard-or-go-home, take chances mentality has blessed me with experiences in my life that I never would have had if I hadn’t talked myself into things and thrown myself forcefully from my comfortable zone.

**My own mother does not nag!  Just thought I would make that clear, since she is going to be reading this 🙂

The price of friends

As an Au Pair in France attending French class was mandatory.  I had no problem with this stipulation being I was there to learn the language and become French. I also honestly wasn’t about to spend all day every day in a village with 100 people!

So about three times a week I went into Dijon and studied all aspects of the French language at L’Alliance Francaise.  It ended up being the best thing I ever did because I met all of my friends at school, something that is not easy to do once you hit a certain age.

I’m not saying that I am old, but once you leave the bubble of college and academia there are limited resources to rencontrer des gens.  Sure there are the nights out at a bar or you could always go out with your friend’s friends.  There are also those weird set-ups which start by someone saying, “you would really get along with so-and-so.”  These conversations lead to what I will call friend-dates.  They highly resemble blind date situations but might actually be more awkward, if possible.

So last month, when I moved to NYC I found myself in a situation much like my last year in France: I had very few friends to call up and go out with.  I have no problem reaching out to old friends (I’ve actually enjoyed that), or tagging along with another friend’s group, but there is something to be said about having your own friends to call up.  Someone to grab a coffee with, try a new restaurant or come with you to an event you heard about but don’t want to go to solo.

Think back to the last time you met a friend.  It was probably move-in day in college, the first day of class, or the day you finally went to that class at the gym (because just joining the gym doesn’t usually lead to making friends. Too many sweaty preoccupied people with headphones on).  Wherever it was, chances are it was an organized event.

So when you’re social, single, moving to a new city and working 9-5, there are limited options for friends.

Besides needing some side-kicks in my life, I also have been feeling a longing for that home away from home: France.  Go figure!  The past few nights have been spent with French movies (Paris and L’arnacoeur) and I wake up from my French dreams (no really I am still dreaming and thinking in French) and want so badly to speak French to anyone who I come across.  Oh la la, j’ai une probleme!

Last night I decided to take a hold of my French nostalgia and check out the possibility of French in NYC.  Familiar with the Alliance Francaise, I knew the NYC organization was extensive.  So after a quick tour of the site I decided to head uptown and check it out.

The first Tuesdays of the month are busy there.  Movies are shown, fairs are presented, conversation hours are enjoyed and a 30-minute free class is offered every hour from 4-7pm.  My plan: go to a free class and check out the scene.  As you all know by now, my plans usually take detours and last night was no exception.  In the process of keeping with “the plan,” I got to talking with the director and she explained how the membership and school were different.  We decided that for me, someone who just wants to talk and keep up with French culture, a membership might be better than classes.  So I gave my free class to the grateful person behind me (it was the last spot) and headed upstairs for some wine and conversation.

What a great choice it was too because I ended up meeting some friends! YAY 🙂

One night and I find an outlet for my French and some friends!  All I had to do was pay a fee…. But that just might be the price of friendship for the mid-twenties crowd.

New Year with New opportunities…in New York?!

It has been such a long time since I have been awake before 8am. I know, I know.  Everyone with a real job hates me right now.  It’s not that I’m extremely lazy: I did spend many years of my life (including four in college) waking up before most people hit their REM sleep (life of a swimmer).

But here I am, Friday the 13th and I got up at 7am! And although I miss being in my bed with Kelly Live!, I can already feel the productivity flowing through my bloodstream.  One appointment out-of-the-way early and hopefully a long list of “to-dos” to cross off before work tonight.  But right now I’m just enjoying some Starbucks as I get back on the blogging trail.  So sorry for the absence–my mind has been soaring elsewhere recently.

Decision making stresses me out.  Especially when it’s for something that I consider a “life change.”  I am someone who can see both sides of situations and find myself easily placed on either side of an issue.  This can be a good thing in some instances, as I can easily adapt to situations, but also a bad one when trying to make a decision.  I usually end up making decisions based on passion since I can argue either side til the window for an answer is closed.  That’s how I ended up in France.  I thought it all out logically first.  I was so scared to miss out on finding a job after graduation but also knew the opportunity to travel was important to me and might not be open again.  I was nervous that the family would not mesh with me and on the other side I thought, what if I meet my husband! (this didn’t happen)  Notice the meticulous bouncing back and forth. Negative to positive to negative.  So I ended up just going for the move to France.  I turned off the negative brain waves (my career as a swimmer actually trained me in this skill) and dove (no swimmer pun intended) for the chance at something new.

And you know what? It was the best thing I ever did!

Knowing this about myself you would think that the next big decision might not be so difficult.  Not the case.  I again found myself weighing both sides of a life changing situation and meddling on the possible negative outcomes.  When I finally was stressed, nauseous and upset over it all I slapped myself in the face (not really) and just told myself to GO WITH IT!

So decision made: I am moving to NYC for the month of February and seeing how it goes.  A trial run if you will.  Next month I hope to get some temp work, try to network into a real job (one where I will most definitely be waking before 9) and find a place to live.  Everyone has to do it once right; a New York adventure.  I am so excited–when I’m not thinking of the money I’ll be spending and the possibility that things might not work out…. (TURN OFF THE NEGATIVITY)