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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.
Christa Avampato has written 3535 posts for Christa Avampato

In the pause: It’s time to be patient with yourself

Be patient with yourself. You’re getting there, wherever there is.

Right now I’m in the process of doing the equivalent of crate training Phineas. He didn’t respond well at all to an enclosed crate when he was younger but he’s making good progress, knock on wood, behind a gate that keeps him in the back of the apartment away from the door and the too-loud lobby of my building. Crate training takes discipline, patience, and time, three things I am also trying to give to myself as I give them to him.

We all want what we want right now. It takes time to learn a new skill. It takes patience to let ourselves evolve and grow into the very best version of ourselves. As hard as I drive myself to achieve and succeed, I also try to give myself a break and celebrate every once in a while. I look back on my life and see how far I’ve come from my days on the apple farm. It’s been a long and winding road. It wasn’t easy though from my view now, life is pretty spectacular despite the many difficulties along the way and the challenges I’m facing now. I can’t help but have this overwhelming feeling that everything really is going to be okay eventually. I’ll find what I need in every area of my life. It’s going to take time and effort, but it’s out there. It’s out there for you, too. Keep going.

In the pause: What writing my book taught me about how to spend my time

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked to a lot of friends about the concept of how to spend our time. As they say, even Beyoncé only has 24 hours in a day. We all have to make choices. Try as we might, we can’t do everything, at least not all at once.

So how do we decide what gets attention, effort, and time, and what has to fall by the wayside? And how can we be confident in those decisions once we make them? All I can give you is my own experience. I gave up a lot to write my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. There were many times I didn’t go out and have fun for the sake of writing, rewriting, and editing. I poured myself into that book, and that meant I spent less time on other parts of my career and personal life. I stopped teaching yoga; I took on fewer freelance projects; I spent less time trying to climb the ladder in my business career; I dated less; I made less money; I left my home in New York City to go out into the unknown. All for the sake of a book that I wasn’t sure would ever see the light of day.

You might be asking, “What the hell was she thinking?” and you’d be very right to ask.

I was thinking that if I didn’t write this book, if I didn’t get this story down and work my a*s off to get it out into the world, then I would be left with a profound sense of regret. And I don’t mean the regret varietal that goes something like, “Huh, I wonder what that would have been like.” Nope. I’m talking about the kind of regret you read in articles like Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Want to know the #1 regret in that list? “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Ouch. I couldn’t live, or die, with that. I had to be true to myself now, and that meant I had to write this book. So I gave up what was needed to get it done. And there isn’t a single thing I gave up that I wish I had done instead of writing that book. Not one.

I had the great gift of a fire that nearly killed me at age 33. The 8th anniversary of that fire is about a month away, and every day since then has been gravy in my mind. I was infinitely fortunate to survive. I have tried hard to live a life I’m proud of, even if people don’t understand it, don’t agree with it, and criticize it. I hope I’m around to see 103. Seriously. If our world is this insane today, just imagine the crazy sh*t we’re going to experience in the year 2079! But if that’s not in the cards for me, that’s okay. Really. I wrote this book. It’s the creative act of my life that I’m most proud of. If and when you hold that book in any form in your hands, you are holding my heart. How great is it to be able to give that away in the hopes that it helps some one, somewhere, some time.

That’s what I did with my time here on this Earth in this life, and it was more than worth it. What’s your Emerson? Find that. Pursue that.

 

In the pause: Maybe a stressful situation is leading you to where you need to go

I’m managing through Phineas’s adjustment to our new apartment. While it’s stressful at the moment thanks to the worst neighbor we’ve ever had, last night as I drifted off to sleep I started to wonder what could be the very positive flip side to this story.

Maybe Phin and I are meant to rescue a second pup who needs a home and will be Phin’s BFF for the rest of his life. Maybe this situation is prompting me to step up my job search even more so that I can *finally* stop renting and buy my very first home. Maybe this journey to help Phin through his anxiety is leading me to someone I’m supposed to meet who will have a positive impact on my life. Or maybe it’s just meant to give me more compassion, empathy, and concern for those who are also going through stressful times.

I’m not sure if any of those narratives are true, but their possibility is helping me rest a little easier and encouraging me to keep moving forward.

In the pause: Who I am and what I’m looking for in my job search

A recruiter and career coach suggested that I put together a snapshot of who I am and what I’m looking for in my job search. It was a great exercise that helped me focus and communicate my search. Know someone I should talk to? Connect to me on LinkedIn

“I use business and storytelling skills to build a better world. After completing my undergradate studies at Penn, I managed Broadway shows and national theater tours. Then after getting my MBA at Darden, I spent 10 years in a variety of product and program leadership roles at for-profit companies, nonprofits, and startups while also building my writing portfolio as a freelance journalist at publications like The Washington Post.

A proud New Yorker, I want to bundle all of my business and writing experience to work for an organization creating social impact in education, access to the arts, and / or systems that serve as the bedrock of New York City.”

 

In the pause: You are entitled to your dreams

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams

As I’m deep in the job hunt at the start of this new chapter in my career, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. How big to make them, how long to chase them, and how much to give up for them. These are very personal questions, and there are no wrong or right answers save for this one exception: we are all entitled to them.

Dreams are the lifeblood and the bedrock of the human imagination. They need air and companionship as much as we do. Please don’t crumple them up and toss them into your sock drawer. You and your dreams deserve more than that; they deserve a shot.

I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to make your living from your dream. You may never even earn a single cent from them. And I don’t think that matters at all. Dreams are about much more than that. They are what keeps our creativity alive, and our creativity is the most important asset we have. If we lose the ability to dream, that little spark of madness that says “I think I can” against all odds, then life becomes very dull very quickly.

If I learned anything during a very tough week last week, it’s this: life is to be lived, fully, in every moment. That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses. Sometimes life feels downright impossible. Sometimes we struggle just to put one foot in front of the other. But that act of persistence, of pushing through against the odds, is the very essence of what it means to live. That is exactly the moment of our creative growth. It’s the most human thing we do—to go on.

In the pause: Finding comfort at St. Pat’s

St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC. Photo by Christa Avampato.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC. Photo by Christa Avampato.

I often go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to find peace and solace during stressful times. I emptied my change purse, lit a candle, and said a prayer.

I prayed for my friend who passed away and for so many of my friends who are struggling through life now. To find a job where I can spend every day building a better world for all of us. For Phineas’s anxiety to subside so we can happily settle into our new home. For the continued opportunities to do my creative work, and for love. 

About 10 minutes later, I had an interview with a startup that is exactly the place I’ve been hoping to find. I got an email from my publisher that the pre-order page for my book is now live (more details on that later after I do a bit of polishing on it). I checked in on Phineas and he was only barking occasionally behind his new gate which was barely audible when I got to the lobby of my apartment building. And for a brief moment, I was able to imagine my friend who passed away as being in a happier, more peaceful place now.

I can’t say for sure if lighting a candle and saying a heartfelt prayer made a difference for me today but it certainly feels that way, and that’s good enough for me. Whatever you’re facing now, I hope this same shift in energy finds you and comforts you.

In the pause: A day fully lived

Today was an upside down, turned around kind of day. Today I can say that I lived. Really lived.

My pup, Phin, happily played at daycare for 12 hours while I: ran about a dozen errands, set up his gate and noise dampening curtain, and had two very solid job interviews where I spoke my truth and it was appreciated. A sweet, cuddly, adorable 10-day-old baby slept on me for 2 1/2 hours. A dear old friend needed a shoulder and an ear, and I gladly and gratefully offered mine. And I lost a friend today whom I had not seen in a long time but will remember as someone who was always focused on how others were doing. She was whip-smart, incredibly capable, and never afraid to speak her mind. I admired her for all of that, and she will be missed.

Today had incredible highs and incredible lows. Moments of activity. Moments of calm. I am trying hard to remember that life will flow if we let it, for better or for worse, through difficulty and ease, through discomfort and freedom, if we believe that it can. I wish you a day full of life, and all that it brings.

In the pause: The future you want is out there

It’s been said that there are an infinite number of parallel universes where every scenario of your life is currently in existence. That’s a pretty trippy thing to consider but today I’m going to let my mind expand and imagine that’s true. Makes things a little easier, doesn’t it?

In the pause: Managing through anxiety

This week has been an anxious one for me thanks to a threatening neighbor in my new apartment building. My dog was barking at some disturbance outside, the neighbor flipped his lid, and left me a threatening voicemail. Twice. Not feeling safe in my home is a trigger for me, and this threatening message sent me into a difficult spiral of emotions.

I tell you this not for sympathy (I am immensely fortunate to have friends who have helped me through the last few days in countless, valuable ways) but to offer empathy for those who also battle this struggle. For too long, I didn’t ask for help. As a matter of fact, I silently chastised myself for struggling at all. With anything. Ever. I *should* be stronger than this. I *should* have everything under control at all times in all circumstances. I cannot break down. Ever. At least not in front of people.

What I’ve learned is that asking for help, advice, and support is the bravest, strongest thing in the world. Let people in. Share and listen. That’s what’s going to make things better.

 

In the pause: How to make today count

“Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha

I’ve been a little wrapped up in the activity of the weekend, some of it good and some of it not-so-good. I had a bit of day, as they say, whoever they are and they would be right. The thing is, we’ve got to do our best to let it go. I am the queen of hanging on so I understand that this is a tall order. Let it go. Exhale it. Stop worrying, thinking, churning, and obsessing over what doesn’t serve you. I get it. Yes, we’ve got to let it go, and it’s very difficult to do that.

So what if we did this, instead? What if we just promised ourselves to learn from it? What if we paid forward the experience to our future selves? What if we could accept the idea that “tomorrow I’ll do better” is enough? I think it’s worth a shot.

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