California, calm, creativity, peace

Beautiful: My LA Adventure Taught Me to Be a Tree in Winter

9d2275bf25fe5c1d448e48e7aff6128d“I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” ~ Jeffrey McDaniel

My LA adventure is drawing to a close. The last few weeks have been a kind of magical transformation for me. I stopped trying to force my experience here and just let it be whatever it wanted to be. It was both liberating and invigorating. I could delight in the hazy sunshine and the gorgeous trees and the cool air without asking anything of them, knowing that they ask nothing of me except to be seen, felt, and experienced.

It’s not in my nature to stop inquiring, to stop digging, but it’s kind of lovely once in a while to take the advice of John Lennon and Paul McCartney and let it be, knowing there will be an answer. Trusting that somewhere along the line that answer will rise up when it’s good and ready. The more we let go, the easier it is for that answer to rise. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is just stop, take ourselves out of the equation, and wait.

It takes nerve to wait. We worry that we’re wasting time, our most precious and irreplaceable resource. Here in LA I found that in a calm mind resides every answer we need. They’re there all along – our only job is to get out of the way and listen. Let the answers rise. They always do.

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but I’m going to try my best to bring a little Los Angeles back with me. In the hustle and bustle of New York City’s streets, I hope you’ll be able to spot me as the calm in the middle of the storm, leaving a wake of peace everywhere I go. New York is where I’m needed. That’s where I’ve got something to give.

Thanks, LA, for taking me under your wing and for teaching me more about me than I ever thought possible. I’ll never forget you.

California, cancer, exercise, health

Beautiful: Walking for Cancer

Edie Littlefield Sundby

Sometimes the simplest actions that we do for ourselves and for others have the biggest impact. Yesterday The New York Times ran a story by Edie Littlefield Sundby, a woman who walked 800 miles from San Diego to Sonoma after she fought cancer for 6 years.

It was a grueling physical challenge done over several months with a lot of emotional support from friends and family. And she had never felt more alive, confident, and hopeful for the future. All it took was the determination to get up and out into the world. Sometimes the very best thing we can do when we feel stuck is to summon the will to move.

Click here to read the full article.

California, choices, creativity, home, New York City, work

Beautiful: I Am a Human of New York

My Town. From Pinterest

In just a few short weeks, I realized I’ve been telling myself a story that’s not true. I always imagined that if my ancestors had gotten off the boat in New York Harbor and kept going west, I would have never left the state of California. It’s a catchy little line and totally untrue. LA has given me some downtime, a chance to get away from it all. Getting around here and finding my bearings is proving to be more difficult for me here than it is in New York. When I first moved to New York, from the moment I set foot in that city as a 22-year-old who knew absolutely no one, I felt right at home. It clicked for me. I found the beat immediately and just joined the flow. Not so in LA.

This doesn’t mean that I’m sorry I came here. It also doesn’t mean that I regret this experiment in any way. After all, experiments are just that. We have a theory. We test it. We examine the result. A number of my dear friends have left New York for good this summer. I will miss them terribly and it prompted those old thoughts of giving up New York, again. My theory was that perhaps I had stayed too long at the dance, as Joan Didion so perfectly and beautifully stated about her move from New York to LA. Maybe it was time to grow up and move on. To test that theory, I did a house swap to try out California, a place I’ve thought of making my home for many years. The result has surprised me as much as anyone: California has wonderful aspects and I love to visit, but it’s not meant to be my home.

When these thoughts first started to rise up last week, I thought I was being too judgmental. Perhaps I needed more time, more patience, more experience with this new life. And as I sat in my meditation every morning, I realized that my gut was right, as it always is. Sometimes I ignore it, and regret it.

There are many things to commend my temporary home. The weather here is mostly cool and dry. Because I’m at the beach, it’s often cloudy and that prompts my pensive writer brain. Because it’s not as easy to get around here as it is in New York, I’m spending a lot of time on my creative work at home, exactly what I wanted to do with this time. I am staying in a beautiful condo that’s in a walkable neighborhood while a pair of lovely people are taking exceptional care of my (very small) pad in New York City. I’m getting the chance to see friends here whom I don’t see often enough. Almost all of the people I’ve met here are lovely and kind.

I’d always been of the mind that a place is just a place, that I loved New York only for the people who are there and a part of my life. But that’s not true either. New York and I have had a love affair for 15 years now. It’s been an off and on relationship. We have had our rough patches and separations. Sometimes I want to punch it right in the face because it makes me so frustrated. Eventually I can’t take it anymore, throw a fit, and run out the door saying I’m heading for greener pastures. New York stoically stands its ground, confidently and calmly, and says, “Okay. Do whatever you want. You know where to find me.”

I leave New York, and then I come back. Over and over and over again. I miss its energy and the buckets of opportunity that are flowing through the streets. I’ve had 8 different homes there over the course of 15 years. I’m sure I’ll have many more. I’m in Manhattan now and know that eventually I’ll find a home in Brooklyn either when this lease is up or perhaps a year later. I’m also certain that the love of my life is roaming the streets there and he’s wondering what the hell is taking me so long to find him. (Believe me, man, I’m wondering the same exact thing!) I know my long-term multilayered career will find its groove there.

New York, give me your noise, your dirt, and all the crazies you can muster. Let me rise to the challenge and make me a better person in the process. You’ve taught me strength, courage, and perseverance. A diamond is made shiny by pressure and scrubbing. A pearl is created through a salve to ease irritation. A butterfly is born from a cocoon through the struggle and squirming of an imperfect being with great potential that is hidden from the eye. Those lessons are not lost on me. I’m glad you stood your ground and chose to evolve on your own terms, not mine. You taught me so much about me just by being who you are. You’re not meant to be a home to everyone, but you are certainly meant to be my home. I’ll see you soon, but in the meantime I am making the most of my 5 remaining weeks in the City of Angeles.

California, choices, transportation, travel

Beautiful: Los Angeles Sans Car

LA’s Rapid Transit bus system from Pinterest

“You need to get a car.”

I have heard this statement over and over again. I’ve done the research. I almost pulled the trigger and got a car for the remaining 6 weeks that I’ll be in LA. Then a few incidents happened that caused me to reconsider:

1.) My dear friend, Amy, who shares my love for public transit, sent me an article from AFAR entitled Another Angle on LA by Aimee Bender. In it, she skeptically explores the world of public transit in LA.

2.) Traveling back from Lake Tahoe, I got caught in all of the confusion in SFO after the horrific plane crash there. To get back to LA from San Francisco, I ended up having to rent and drive a car. The traffic wasn’t bad, but I found myself reaffirming what I’ve known all along: I don’t enjoy driving. At all. It’s one thing to rent a Zipcar here and there for specific reasons. It’s another thing entirely to depend on one to get from every point A to every point B.

3.) It’s also quite synchronistic that the people I swapped houses with this summer also prefer public transit and walking to driving. They’ve left me numerous resources on how to navigate LA via bus, subway, and my own two little feet.

So I’m listening to the signs and taking an adventure: I am going to attempt to navigate LA, and enjoy everything it has to offer, sans car as much as possible. I’m excited for the road ahead – especially since I won’t be driving on it. I promise to share all of my transit adventures here.

California, health, medical, medicine

Beautiful: Los Angeles Families Lend Their Hearts and Homes to Wounded Veterans Through Operation Mend

320639_509536619078099_296224254_nI heard about Operation Mend on the local LA news and it brought tears to my eyes. Through Operation Mend, local Los Angeles families open their homes to “provide returning military personnel with severe facial and other medical injuries access to the nation’s top plastic and reconstructive surgeons, as well as comprehensive medical and mental-health support for the wounded and their families.”

Receiving top-notch medical care is critical to the healing process for these soldiers, but it’s not the only care they need. They need the love, concern, and embrace (literal and figurative) of a family while they’re undergoing treatment at UCLA. Volunteer families open the doors of their homes to offer emotional support, a warm meal, a comfortable bed, and relaxation time during a stress period of the soldiers’ lives.

In its 6th year, Operation Mend has helped 88 soldiers and their families rebuild their lives. While to our eyes the most dramatic transformation of these soldiers may be physical, to the families who come to know and love them, its their spirits that are rebuilt stronger by these incomprehensible circumstances. These families testify that the soldiers help them feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and purpose. In my short-term adopted city it puts a smile on my face to know that on these long and winding streets that I don’t yet know, there are hearts as big as any I’ve ever met anywhere.

California, choices, future

Beautiful: I’m on the Road Ahead

We spend so much time looking in the rearview mirror and pining for what was, that we forget to take a good look at what’s staring us in the eyes right through the front windshield. The road of life is so unpredictable. It’s full of wonder, magic, and experiences that we cannot yet imagine.

So here’s the first decision of my creative break: I’m done looking back. From here on out, I’m living my life forward. Thank you to my beautiful friend, Sara Alvarez Kleinsmith, for posting this picture and always inspiring me to live fully.


adventure, beauty, California, creativity, dreams

Beautiful: Day 1 of My Creative Break in Santa Monica

This photo perfectly captures the serenity I’m feeling in Santa Monica. It’s my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean on Day 1 of my creative break. Pretty remarkable. I can barely process that I’ve come this far in my life, a place I never thought I’d be.

For my album of photos from Day 1, please like and visit this blog’s Facebook Page by clicking here.


California, music

Beautiful: California, Joni Mitchell-Style

Since I started imagining a summer by the sea, Joni Mitchell‘s  song, California, has been running through my mind. “California, will you take me as I am?” I sure hope so…

This is a BBC video of Joni singing her hit song, California, live in 1970. The lyrics are just below the video window.

Sitting in a park in Paris France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won’t give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn’t want to stay here
It’s too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh but California

California I’m coming home
I’m going to see the folks I dig
I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I’m coming home

I met a redneck on a Grecian isle
Who did the goat dance very well
He gave me back my smile
But he kept my camera to sell
Oh the rogue the red red rogue
He cooked good omelettes and stews
And I might have stayed on with him there
But my heart cried out for you California

Oh California I’m coming home
Oh make me feel good rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m your biggest fan
California I’m coming home

Oh it gets so lonely
When you’re walking
And the streets are full of strangers
All the news of home you read
Just gives you the blues
Just gives you the blues
So I bought me a ticket
I caught a plane to Spain
Went to a party down a red dirt road
There were lots of pretty people there
Reading Rolling Stone reading Vogue
They said “How long can you hang around?”
I said a week maybe two
Just until my skin turns brown
Then I’m going home to California

California I’m coming home
Oh will you take me as I am
Strung out on another man
California I’m coming home

Oh it gets so lonely
When you’re walking
And the streets are full of strangers
All the news of home you read
More about the war
And the bloody changes
Oh will you take me as I am?
Will you take me as I am?
Will you?