Solstice

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So the seasons shifted, there was another gorgeous full moon and my birthday happened; one right after the other. These events combined left me feeling quite powerful and I believe the energy flowing throughout me is more present than ever.

 

As I age further, I never know what exactly to do in celebration of completing another year of life in this crazy world. What I’ve found is that all that really matters is appreciating what you have. I embrace all the little things that make me smile and take comfort in knowing that I am living to my fullest.

I decided to give myself a full week devoted to myself and of course, with the help of all the wonderful people in my life, had a blast. Live folk music, dancing, yoga, running, lots of wine, beach time and an absolute perfect park picnic by the water overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

 

 

Another year of learning. Another year of living.

 

Another year of me.

Grateful for all that is. Hopeful for what lies ahead.

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The Good Stuff

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Sometimes you need to slow down and appreciate just how far you have come.

That’s exactly what I made time for this morning. Sitting at a french cafe in the heart of Chelsea, I reflected on the past few weeks. There is definite evidence of progress. I have been participating in and enjoying Bikram yoga for close to three months now. My friend and I signed up for a 5k Summer series in Prospect Park. Every other Wednesday throughout the summer we will run a 5k. Ran one so far and although it was rough getting back into it, I felt proud to be doing something I love again. Running always makes me feel so strong. I made a commitment to cut sugar out of my diet and successfully went a whole three weeks without a drop of it. During that time I also consumed no alcohol and while I did have a few beers after my detox was over in honor of celebration, I have decided to quit drinking almost indefinitely. I don’t feel that need to escape that I once did which alcohol used to provide me and mostly just feels like I am poisoning my body whenever I do drink. I always feel worse. I only want to participate in activities that are beneficial to my body; I want to be good to myself. I established a personal doctor again and have been in for a few visits, it has been years since I’ve paid any attention to those important details of my life. This morning I was informed that I lost 12 pounds and drastically improved my blood pressure since my previous visit. I can only continue to work hard at boosting my health. Because all that matters to me is that I am healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually.

Aside from the focus on my health and wellness, I also recently received a raise after I obtained my New York City Health Academy certification in Food Safety. It feels good to be able to buy a few more groceries and not work so hard to pay the bills. I’m also looking forward to being able to travel a bit more often, so long as I can afford it.

I’m close to a month away from a trip home. I cannot wait to see my loved ones, have some fun and laughter and recharge my spirit.

I believe that life is mostly about timing. Sometimes things happen at all the wrong moments. But then again, sometimes it all works out. I feel strongly that there are amazing things about to happen in my future. I’m not waiting around or anything. My everyday adventures are more than I could ask for. I have the best friends, most supportive and loving family, an open mind, a big heart and the desire to always experience new things constantly and learn as much as I can. I believe the universe is taking good care of me as well as all of the hard work I have been doing.

Oh and it has officially been one year since I moved back to New York. I am still so in love with this amazingly versatile city.
I am a very lucky and grateful woman.

Long-Legged

I guess we can call this a rough draft.  I am sure to re-visit this at a later date but for now I just need to get it out.  Because I feel very strongly on the topic.

I wish to discuss some things very important to me.  Body image and respect.

First off, body image, especially in today’s society.  Let me first say that I am pleased with the direction that the everyday depiction of a real woman’s body is headed these days.  I see more and more full-figured woman in the media, advertisements, tv-shows, etc than ever before.  But I believe there is still a real problem with society’s expectations of what size we should be or how we should look.

I believe much more emphasis should be put on the health aspect instead of “weight” and “size”.  I’ve battled with my “weight” for a large portion of my life.  Now that I have spent the last  5 years or so learning what it means to be “healthy”, I wish someone had introduced me to this lifestyle sooner.  Instead of drinking slim-fast at age 9 (which is just fucking horrible now that I look back on it) or basically starving myself and taking very dangerous diet pills at age 21, I could have just learned how to eat real, whole, healthy foods and just be good to my body.

These days I am so proud of my body and I have no problems saying that.  I embrace every little imperfection and make an effort to appreciate my whole self with every glance in the mirror.  Maybe it’s wisdom that’s come with aging, maybe it’s so many empowering conversations I’ve had with my close female friends, or perhaps it’s all those times I spent changing in locker rooms finally realizing that no one is perfect and we all have our faults.  I don’t know exactly but I am thankful for everything I’ve learned about myself.

Here is the problem.  Now that we are approaching warmer temperatures, everyday clothing choices are no doubt more revealing.  Especially when you’ve previously been bundled up with 3 or 4 layers.  In all neighborhoods that I’ve resided in since my move to NYC, there seems to always be those men.  The ones who stand around in groups just waiting for a girl in a skirt, dress, shorts, whatever to pass by.  Then the filthy, disgusting, inappropriate,  grotesque and degrading comments begin.  It could be anything from a statement, a whistle, a look, a kiss noise or beyond.  Either way, it’s uncomfortable and unwanted.  This happens every year and at times it actually makes me question what clothing I choose to wear for the day.  I think if I were in any other city I would be quicker to speak up and express my dislike of this.  But to be on the safe side, I usually do everything I can to modify my path so that I do not have to come in direct contact with these men.  This is difficult in a city where I rely on walking and public transit for all my travels.

I do not deserve to be treated in this way nor does any other woman.  The lack of respect makes me sick and I wish I knew how to change it.  Just because I am tall, have long legs and decide to wear shorts for the day, doesn’t give some creepy guy the right to say derogatory things to me.

So I vow to wear whatever I want to this summer.  Without worrying about what disrespectful comment I might receive.  Because it is my body and my freedom to be me.  I will never again let someone else make me feel bad about that.

Wicked Games

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With the twinkle of both Freedom towers visible just outside my third-story apartment window, I feel things inside of me burning. My insides are on fire yet again. I guess when all is lost sometimes that is when you have the most to be thankful for. Feeling everything completely is the best thing for me. Letting it all consume me in every which way. It’s important that I face it. I embrace this newfound realism. The dreamer in me needs a rest sometimes. Everything will not end in rainbows and roses. I will not get all the things that I want. But every broken dream will teach me more about myself.

 

It’s those games we play. We tell each other we want what we have when really, we want something else. We settle for things because we run out of steam to keep up the chase. Life is exhausting. Especially among all the wicked. Are things ever as they seem?

Those lights are calling to me, always singing me to sleep.

At least I have my city.

Orbital Bliss

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It was on a bus somewhere along my commute from Trader Joe’s back home. It was a frigid Monday morning and I was bundled tightly. None of my regular music could settle me; everything felt painful in my ears. I chose a piano/violin station and as the bus became more and more of a crowded and chaotic environment with each stop, I drifted further away. I closed my eyes and escaped the bus, the city, the world, my thoughts, my emotions, until it was like I didn’t even exist in my own body any longer. It felt warm. The warmest I have felt in so long. I was entirely motionless and my head empty. Strangely I had managed to completely let everything go, all the things inside. Some I was aware of and even things I didn’t know were there. It was bliss in those few moments yet so brief. Eventually I felt the vibrations in my feet travel back throughout my entire body and I was aware once again.

That was my favorite place…I want to go there again. I think I’ll visit often.

Necessary Roughness

 

Tonight I walked the streets of New York, uptown where tall buildings surround your every move.  Holiday music and brightly lit displays stimulate the senses.  It seems I always fall back into that feeling, the same one I first felt overcome me back in May of 2010.  I’ll never forget it as long as I live.  I was certain from the moment I arrived; this is where I was meant to be.  I had waited so long to feel this way.  I finally belonged.  I was home.

 

I feel grateful to occasionally have that same “new” feeling radiate through me.  After all this time, the gleam remains.  My love for this city still burns rapidly.

 

 

 

The universe always seems to take care of me in its own ways as long as I continue to believe.  Things just work out.  A little bit of luck is always looming not too far behind.  Independence suits me but I still know when to ask for help.  Most importantly, I’ve become quite the problem solver.  Things that used to have me anxiety-ridden or perhaps in tears now simply presents something new to research, strategize and conquer.  I look forward to every new token of knowledge and experience.  It’s kind of like playing a video game.  But its real life 🙂

Officially I will be a New Yorker for at least another year.  I have committed to that via my new lease that just began.  I am excited beyond belief and I know this shall be the best year ever.  I can’t help but smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding the Waves

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I wish there were a way for me to fully capture this moment in which I am currently existing, at least so I could share the feeling with someone; anyone really. Jazz in the background, candles lit, safely snuggled under my heated blanket while I lounge here to document this next stage of me.

Rewind back to last year this time and I was living in a beautiful world called Columbus, Ohio. My job was high-stress, friends were scarce, resources limited and I needed something big to happen. For me. I was longing for a new outlet. I made the decision back then that I would someday run a half-marathon. Running was still somewhat new to me at that point but undoubtedly something I had grown to love. I pushed myself so very hard for the next 6 months, although not quite as intensely as I had hoped for. So instead, this last May, I ran my first 5k. One of the most rewarding moments of my life.

Fast forward to now. My wonderful friend Johanelli and I have decided to really start training for a Half Marathon next May. Now that I have an actual partner in crime to share this amazing and excruciatingly difficult journey, I feel more motivated than I ever have. I know all too well how painful this process is sure to be but at the same time the end results are guaranteed to be powerful beyond measure.

On top of marathon training, I will also be moving apartments in two short weeks. Words cannot describe how thankful I am to be moving on from this unfortunately poisonous living situation. Not to mention this new place will be a definite step up in my world and I can’t wait to start over again. It seems I do that often.

I could be the heated blanket, the Jazz, the endorphins or the fact that the moon is finally in my sign. All I know is that I’m on top again. Queen of my ever-changing wonderful world.

Recovery and Re-Building After the Storm

In times of danger, destruction and widespread devastation I could not be more proud to be a New Yorker.  We are all here to help in any way possible and there is a sense of camaraderie throughout the community that just makes you feel safe.  So many people volunteering to help clean up, lend a hand to their neighbors and band together to get this amazing city back to a normal daily operation.

It’s strange due to the fact that sometimes you may go a whole day without making eye contact with someone on the trains, buses, in your daily route by foot.   But when something big happens in this city, you better believe that everyone will band together so that we make it through.

I’ve been unable to work for these last few days and am unsure of when I will be able to return.  Two of the locations that I work in Manhattan are without power.  Not only does this effect myself and my co-workers(my friends), it’s also hurting my employer.  Being a small business as we are, every day is so important.

I am so thankful that my family got to visit before all of this happened and that my mother was able to safely board her flight that left JFK at 7pm the night before the storm hit us.  I guess time was on our side.  And I will always remember that this period of time was preceded by the greatest week I have had probably since I moved here back in 2010.

The effect this has on me is microscopic compared to those in lower Manhattan and anyone who is without power and/or water.  I wish there was more ways for me to help.  I hope to be able to volunteer at the Brooklyn Bridge Park for cleanup and take a hike over the bridge and into the city to see if there is a way to lend a hand.

Although the storm has passed, this city still has a long road ahead before things are all cleaned up and start to resume normalcy.  This article really puts it all in perspective, especially if you are an outsider and only seeing news coverage which, a lot of the time, is complete garbage.

Mayor Bloomberg said last night that we’ve come to “the end of the downside” of Hurricane Sandy—hey, if you can spare $150 and a cab ride, you can join him at the very first Brooklyn Nets game tomorrow. But power in Lower Manhattan won’t be restored for “days,” and plenty of people are still facing a mandatory evacuation, if they’re not dodging glass shards or pitch black stairwells. While many of us will gripe about having to work from brightly lit homes within feet of the machine that keeps food and alcoholic beverages cold, let’s remember that for many people living downtown, Sandy is still here.

Jonathan Maimon lives in Downtown Brooklyn, where he commutes to his job as a associate portfolio manager for a mutual fund based in Jersey City. Maimon spent six years in Manhattan and calls it “a place that I’m pretty close with emotionally,” which is why he made a meandering five-hour, 12 mile run across Lower Manhattan to survey the damage. Based on what he saw, he thinks that perhaps the city is moving on too quickly.

 

“There were no Red Cross vehicles, not a lot of city vehicles around to reach out to people and ask them what services they needed,” Maimon says. “It was just pedestrians walking around and exploring. People were very calm, very friendly, you know how people are in New York. But what was shocking is that there was no food. Nothing was open. And then they have to go home to apartments without power.”

Maimon adds, “And the most serious thing to me is elderly or disabled people in high rise buildings—this affects you if you’re rich or poor. There’s not a lot of ways for them to get out safely. I’m kinda worried about the city not really knowing how many of those people are out there.” That’s why he wrote this letter to us. “The mayor just said that the worst of the storm was behind us, which is factually true,” Maimon adds. “But I personally think the worst is yet to come. Not having power is going to wear people down.” Here’s his letter[UPDATE: Help is on the way, people of the Powerless Zones]:

I just returned from Manhattan. I ran for 5 hours with stops, covering 12 miles in total, scoping the island from west to east. You will not hear these stories from the Mayor or Governor; these are my observations, informed by discussions with real people who live in lower Manhattan:

1) Virtually every retailer, restaurant and grocery store south of 38th street is CLOSED. This is in an area covering 8 square miles. I only observed a handful of bodegas in Soho and the East Village, along with Ben’s Pizza on W3rd and MacDougal serving customers. Whole Foods Union Square had a sign reading “because there is no electricity, we cannot open.” There is no food, other than what you have in your refrigerator.

2) To that point, there are close to 400,000 people living below 38th street without power. The mayor earlier said it could be 3 days without power; some Con Ed guys I spoke with in the East Village think it could be longer. Nobody knows.

3) No working traffic lights in this region (drivers are generally being cautious and appropriately yielding to pedestrians). Apartment stairwells are pitch black. High rises have no elevator access.

4) For now, this is an economic crisis – hourly workers cannot be paid, freelancers have no clients, small businesses have no sales, office buildings are shuttered. In my estimate, the lost output is $1 billion dollars EVERY SINGLE DAY that goes by without power for lower Manhattan. Included in this number is the shutdown of our major airports and transportation system. (Note that NYC’s economy generates $2.8 bn daily and over $1 trillion annually – which makes it the world’s 17th largest economy, if it was a country).

5) There is no running water or flushing toilets for people living in the Jacob Riis Houses and surrounding NYCHA buildings on the Lower East Side. In my estimate, this is roughly 20,000 people. One family I spoke with is packing their bags and moving to Brooklyn until services are restored. But it did not appear that all residents were evacuating, even as their toilets did not flush.

6) I did not witness a single Red Cross Truck or FEMA Vehicle or in lower Manhattan. Recall the assistance these agencies provided after 9/11 – this is NOT HAPPENING. There are bound to be hundreds of elderly people, rich and poor, who live on the upper floors of buildings with elevators that are now disabled. IF POWER IS NOT RESTORED, THIS WILL MOVE FROM BEING AN ECONOMIC DISASTER TO A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER.

7) If you think Chinatown normally has an unpleasant odor, imagine what it smells like 24 hours following no refrigeration. Street vendors were trying to unload perishables at bargain prices. I saw a fish weighing roughly 20 pounds and spanning 3 feet from head to tail go to a buyer for $1 dollar. $1 dollar!!!!! 

8) The substation responsible for the outage is a huge facility. It spans an entire avenue from Avenue C to D and a length of street from 13th to 14th. If crews have to inspect every coil and wire, it might be MORE THAN THREE DAYS UNTIL POWER IS RESTORED. Additionally, the site did not appear staffed with many Con Ed workers. As a note, the 2003 blackout lasted 15 hours.9) The water from the storm surge was invariably contaminated – floating garbage, wood pieces from the dock, and possibly sewage. One Nuyorican woman who lived on Avenue C near 12th street noted the water level peaked above her waist. She was still visibly shaken this afternoon. She also recalled a huge noise at 8 pm when the substation failed. The sky, in her words, turned from black to green

10) There were some very generous things. Northern Spy Food Co. served lunch to everyone who lined up outside their restaurant at Avenue A and 12th street – polenta, pork buns, chicken, biscuits and freshly baked cookies. They get props in my book; all this food was served to locals at no charge.”

by Christopher Robbins in  “Gothamist Daily”

Warrior One, Two and Beyond.

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“Gratitude leads to Acceptance,

Acceptance leads to Bliss”

Sometimes hidden in the very dark places of your mind, light finds a way to shine through anyways. Lately I’ve found so much joy in learning more about the things my body and mind are capable of, while simultaneously building my mental and physical strength. They say our body is a temple and how true that has proven to be these days.

Yoga has taken me to a higher level from which I am able to face each day with a clear mind and a clean slate. I let myself feel freely and in turn have let so many of my walls down. In fact, there are no walls left. My life is now divided into separate chapters; then and now. There is a weight that I no longer carry and a burden that will never again be mine. Letting go is finally something that makes sense to me, at last I’ve learned how.

Very thankful for this new blessing that has been taking care of me. Thrilled to see what heights my mental well-being will continue to soar to in the future.

Soaking in the Sky

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Sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge watching the sunrise; often I do this when I cannot sleep. I long to be near the water at any chance I get and somehow I feel more secluded sitting up here away from the millions that inhabit this chaos-filled city. Maybe it’s just easier to be alone here, yet doesn’t feel so lonely. I guess this city is like that. You can walk around and live within the stories of strangers lives.

My attention is drawn to a young foreign couple…

just steps away from were I sit, shouting out encouraging words to those walking and running by. “You’re a beautiful woman! Amazing body! Keep on running! Great job! Fun, young and fit!” At first it takes me a bit off guard; this doesn’t happen very often, as crazy as things do get. This goes on for the next fifteen minutes or so. I am staring off into the sky, continuing to jot things down in the notebook in front of me. Eventually they approach me. The man asks if I am a writer and at first I am not sure how to answer. “Yes. Most days”, I reply. “Do you always write or only when you have something to say?” The question made so much sense to me. “When I have something to say,” I answered. “Well, I can tell you must be creative. Anyone sitting here on the bridge with this this view at this time of morning must have true inspiration inside of them.” Despite his somewhat thick accent, I understood every word clearly. I wondered how this man, this stranger, could read me so well in an instant. “You know we will never see each other again. Tell me our story. What is it? Just write it down for us and we’ll wait here.”

Inspired, I wrote out their story, spanning a short paragraph. I tore off the page and handed it to them. They then invited me to breakfast. “Do you come here in troubled times? Would you care to join us for breakfast?” I graciously declined but my soul was touched. Even now I cannot fully explain what this interaction meant to me but there’s a chance that it helped serve as a reminder that someone is always there to listen no matter where you may be, even a stranger. We could all use some encouragement and open arms. I wish the world was better and we could all learn how to be more open, honest and kind.

I guess that’s why I’ll always be a dreamer. I designate the way I see things. I predestine the ending. In my mind, everyone lives happily ever after. And that’s my story just the way I fancy it.