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In the pause: Reflections on my college years at Penn from an Amtrak train

I recently took an Amtrak train up to New York for a long weekend. I love the train for many reasons, especially because it gives me a chance to roll past my alma mater – the University of Pennsylvania. I always get a little teary eyed. Those years were hard for me. I learned a lot. Struggled a lot. Grew a lot. And growth is often painful. It’s uncomfortable to become something. It’s scary and difficult. And yet, it must be done. To become the people we’re meant to be, we have to grow and evolve. We need to learn hard, painful lessons about life, about the world, and about ourselves. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle of the highest order that I even survived. Do I wear my diploma like a badge of honor? You bet I do. I earned every letter of that sucker and then some. I wouldn’t want to do it over again, and yet I’m grateful for it. It taught me to stare into the fire and smile instead of flinch. And that kind of strength is invaluable. It erases fear.

About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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It’s difficult to put into words the emotions that surface during Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself. Part magic show, illusion spectacular, storytelling night, and clairvoyant event, it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. His poise, grace, empathy, and masterful command of the stage and audience are on a level of genius that I didn’t know was possible. I alternately cried and laughed for close to two hours, completely riveted by the through line and captivated by Derek’s presence. Mostly I sat there with my jaw on the floor because I was astounded by his work. * My friend and mentor, the incomparable writer and storyteller @tellingabetterstory, took me and our friend, @hellosemrick, to this show a few weeks ago and I’ve thought about it every day since. I will be thinking about it for many days, weeks, and months to come. Even now as I write this post, I keep getting chills down my entire spine. In & Of Itself is that electric. * Derek gave every member of the audience a gift, personal and perfectly crafted. I’m not quite sure how I’ll ever be able to repay him, and legendary director Frank Oz, for all they gave me—a stranger they will likely never meet—during this performance. Thank you feels so woefully inadequate, and it’s what I have. I mean it from my whole spirit. * Thank you, @Derekdel and Frank, for showing all of us what can happen when we show up with our whole heart, pay attention, and make purposeful connection with another person our single goal. It is the purest form of magic I know—to really see and be seen. * In & Of Itself runs this weekend at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square. After Sunday, August 19th, it will be never be done again.

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