commitment, Florida, food, New York City, Orlando

This Just In: Orlando creates a scene with food

East End Market, Orlando, Florida
East End Market, Orlando, Florida

When I lived in New York City, I loved the vibrant food scene there. Growing up in a rural area of farm country and later working for an environmental nonprofit, I’ve always felt really connected to the dirt despite living in cities for more than half my life. I didn’t know if I’d find anything like that food scene when I moved to Florida but yesterday (ironically) The New York Times shined a light on what is growing here as it picked Orlando as one of its top travel destinations for 2015. Why? Because of the local food scene driven by places like East End Market and Cask & Larder.

While nowhere near the size of New York’s food scene, Orlando-based farmers and food artisans are building a locavore community with passion. I’m hoping to get more involved with that world now that I have the time and space to do that. I’ll let you know what I find. In the meantime, check out this article that highlights several food entrepreneurs that are making a delicious life here in the central part of the Sunshine State. (Scroll to number 15 on this list.)

Florida, imagination, inspiration, nature, New York City

Inspired: I see the stars in Florida

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

Stargazing was one of my favorite activities when I was a kid. I looked at the stars for hours and they carried me away into my imagination. Were there creatures up there, out there, looking at Earth the same way I looked at the stars and planets? Did they know things I didn’t know? Did they have magic powers that I could only dream of? Maybe. Definitely.

In New York City there are hardly any stars. The city has too much ambient light and that light hides the stars from us. They’re up there of course, but New Yorkers can’t see them, or at least can’t see them very well. Here in Florida, they’re out there in brilliant abundance every night. They carry me away exactly like they did when I was a child. They remind me that I am only one very small speck in an enormous universe that is awash with secrets, truths, and discoveries yet to be made.

The sight of the stars in Florida keeps me reaching, and for that I’m grateful.

Florida, New York City, photographs, pictures, travel

Inspired: Pictures from my trip down the East Coast from New York to Florida

I planned to Twitter and Instagram my way down the East Coast as I made the move from New York City to Florida. Fate intervened and long story short, my phone was stolen at JFK airport on my last day in New York. Because I didn’t have time to get a new phone before I left, I made the trip without one. I was forced to enjoy the scenery and be in the moment for over 1200 miles of our beautiful country. It was wonderful to disconnect from my device and connect with the world, even for someone like me who loves technology.

I was able to capture a few pictures with my digital camera. Here are some highlights (literally) from the road!

adventure, home, New York City

Inspired: Another New York City Swan Song (Reprise)

New York City
New York City

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. I leave mine here in New York. On these streets. With these people. And before I go, I’ve got to say thank you.

To the people, all these people. I’ll miss you most of all. The rude, the crude, and the kind, in masses and exceedingly long lines. Busy, moving, climbing, and often blocking my way. New Yorkers and their never-ending opinions, loud, boisterous, and strong. You have to admire a city of people who never admit they’re wrong. You taught me everything through your energy, drama, and noise. The doormen. The fruit vendors on every uptown corner. The city workers who make this city work. The musicians who play their hearts out on the street, in the subway, in the park, in the great concert halls and small hidden clubs that dot every neighborhood. The writers. The dreamers. My boss Charlotte Wilcox who taught me how to survive (on $396/week) and my boss Bob G. who taught me how to thrive. My many bosses in the land of never-ending cubicles, some hideous, some clueless, and some wise. My pot-smoking granny neighbor and the hoarder who set my apartment building on fire. Even the guy who just now almost knocked me over as he passed. Even you. Thank you all. You have given me material—it’s all material! —to craft, create, and grow a body of work and a life of meaning.

Of course to my friends. Friends who are family, my framily, in New York. Those who are still here and those who have gone on to new adventures in new places. You inspire me, keep me reaching, keep my striving, and that is no small gift.

To the food. I cannot leave without thanking all of the chefs and servers in food trucks, behind counters, in kitchens great and small. Some who charge a fortune and some who charge almost nothing at all. (Especially to Lenny’s, Tal’s, and H&H, thanks for all your fine bagels and schmears over the years.) You’ve all fed me well, in fat times and lean, and inspired me to see what I could create in my own tiny kitchen. You filled my belly and fed my soul. So thank you.

To the dogs of New York and their parents who love them. Thank you for giving Phin and me a community of kindred spirits, human and animal. To the Spot Experience for taking such good care of my little guy when I had to travel and couldn’t take him with me.

To Central Park and Riverside Park, you were sanctuaries to me in all kinds of weather. I would come to you when I was happy and sad and disappointed and confused because you would just let me walk and be.

To the trains, planes, buses, boats, cabs, and my own two strong feet that take me all over this small place so packed with life that it feels hundreds of times its physical size. Thank you for showing me the world without leaving the island.

To the museums. You have been some of my happiest homes in New York – from AMNH to MoMA to the Met – I often found myself wandering those halls, lost and found in equal amounts.

So New York, this is where I leave you. The end of another chapter in my New York life. For those keeping track, this is the third and I’m sure not the last. New York, you and I will always be together, at least in spirit. I’ll come back to visit and probably, eventually, to live. We’ll both be a little bit different and a little bit the same. Times change, we change, places change. Change can’t be stopped. You taught me that change is never to be feared, but embraced – fully, lovingly, and constantly. And that I’ll take with me everywhere I go. Thank you, for everything.

home, New York City

Inspired: The Hum of New York

New York morning
New York morning

I was angry on Lexington Avenue. Phineas likes to take his morning trot down it from our home on 90th Street because he likes to be in the middle of the action. Against my better judgement, I let him. Yesterday was particularly busy with trucks, horns, angry commuters pre-coffee, and pallets of God-knows-what headed for God-knows-where. Plus it was Monday.

My heart started beating faster just trying to get Phin through the crowds, and then I just stopped (in my mind, not with my feet because on Lexington Avenue if you stop, you’re dead. You’ll get run over, by people.) It was sunny and cool and I realized it was my last Monday in New York. At least for now. I smiled, took a deep breath, and everything felt a little better.

Yes, this place is crazy and it’s often a pain in the ass. But that’s what makes it New York. Nothing’s easy so we’re grateful for everything, at least deep down anyway. On the surface, we keep on truckin’ because that’s the speed of life in New York. What I finally got, after all these years, is that life moves fast when we’re on our feet, but in our minds, we can slow it down. We can acknowledge the magic of this place even while our feet are running just to keep up with the crowd. More than any place else, New York is what it is and what we make of it at the same time, all at once.

creativity, New York City

Inspired: I met an angel on the New York City subway

New York City subwayI was on the subway when an older woman sat down next to me in slow motion. I had to compliment her.

“You did that so gracefully,” I said.

“Well at my age, you have to do everything gracefully,” she said.

“How old are you?”

“100. Today.”

“Today’s your 100th birthday?”

“It is.”

“How does it feel?”

“Good, just like my other days. I have a great life.”

“Have you lived in New York your whole life?”

“I have. What about you?”

“I’ve lived here for a number of years, but I’m moving to Florida this week.”

“You’ll come back.”

“You think?”

“Oh, yes. Everyone always comes back eventually.”

“Well, I’d love to come back with more money,” I joked.

“You will. You’ll see,” she said without any trace of joking. “Oh, this is my stop.”

She stood up just as gracefully as she sat down.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Irene,” she said, shaking my hand. “What’s yours?”


“You go enjoy your life, Christa. I’ll see you when you get back.”

She smiled wide and exited the train. It’s encounters like this that make me realize New York is a great city and that angels live among us. Once the subway doors closed, I seriously wondered if I had just met a person named Irene or if imagined her. Either way, I plan to take her advice.


change, New York City, yoga

Inspired: The Bittersweet of Goodbye – My Last Yoga Class with My NYC Seniors

From Pinterest“I always think it’s a good thing to move toward the light.” ~ one of my senior yoga students about my move to Florida

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry in front of my seniors at our last chair yoga class yesterday. For the past two years, I’ve smiled, laughed, practiced, and meditated with them. They’re amazing inside and out, and they gave me so much more than I ever gave them.

So I cried, in front of them, on my way through the park toward home, when I opened up the thank you cards and gifts that they bought me, even now while I write this simple post. My friend, Kristy, said it best: we’re so lucky to have these incredible connections and it’s so hard to see them change. I wouldn’t trade my time with my seniors for anything, and I also wish I didn’t have to let them go. It’s all bittersweet and happy-sad, and I’m so grateful for all of it.

action, adventure, creativity, discovery, New York, New York City

Inspired: The future takes shape one piece at a time

imageI was in a holding pattern on leaving New York for a long time because I didn’t know where to go. I knew it was time for new adventures but I wasn’t sure where to find them. I still don’t know for sure. I’m going to Orlando to see if that’s the right place. It feels like the right next place, and that’s all that matters right now. Nothing lasts forever. We change our minds. We grow, evolve, and get new information. The only step we ever need is the next one. The road ahead will reveal itself when it’s good and ready, and in pieces. I’m trying to live my life that way, just one step at a time.

art, books, child, childhood, children, creativity, literature, museum, New York City, story, writer, writing

Inspired: Madeline in New York – Ludwig Bemelmans Art Exhibit at New-York Historical Society

Exhibit at the New-York Historical Society

“For me Madeline is therapy in the dark hours.” ~ Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…” is one of the most famous introductions to one of the most famous characters in children’s literature: Madeline. Ludwig Bemelmans created Madeline after a terrible accident that left him hospitalized at the age of 39. His hospital roommate was a young girl who had her appendix removed. Her stories of her life inspired Bemelmans to create Madeline.

Eventually Bemelmans recovered from his injuries and published his first Madeline book at age 41 after 20+ years of working in hotels in New York. During those two decades, he consistently practiced his art and slowly built up his freelance portfolio. His example has been a great inspiration to me as a writer.

Madeline was Bemelmans’ second act after many years of difficult work in a completely different industry. He never lost his optimism and never gave up. And thank goodness. Not only is Madeline therapy for him, but it’s therapy for all of his readers and admirers, particularly little girls who strive to be strong, brave, and courageous. The New-York Historical Society has mounted a retrospective of Bemelmans’ life and art with Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans.

Bemelmans Bar is one of my favorite bars in New York – tucked away in the Carlyle Hotel on East 76th Street. The walls are covered with his original drawings. It’s a good place to dream, and drink. If you’re in New York, I highly recommend it.

action, adventure, change, creativity, home, moving, New York City

Inspired: I’m Moving to Orlando, Florida

From PinterestAfter years of debate, I’ve made the decision to move to Orlando, Florida at least through the end of the year. I’ve been visiting my family there for long stretches of time while keeping my home in New York City. Now I’m flipping the paradigm to have my home in Florida with stretches of time spent visiting New York.

Some of the reasons are economic. How much higher can New York City rent climb? The answer is always higher, and I really want to own a home, a near-impossibility for me in New York. I could fork over an insane amount of monthly rent for a less and less appealing apartment, but that seems foolish. Better to buy a beautiful place in Florida and Airbnb the time I want to be in New York.

Some of the reasons are personal. My mom’s getting older. My little nieces are getting older. I want more space in my life for travel and exploration, and that’s a tough conundrum to crack with the cost of New York City living.

Many of the reasons are professional. I’m turning most of my attention to writing. That includes journalism, copywriting, playwright, and writing my first novel this Fall. I’ll likely add some teaching into the mix in some way. I’ve also got a few product ideas up my sleeves that I want to be able to build and test. In a less expensive city, this multi-faceted career is possible without sacrificing quality of life.

And it’s time for adventure. If New York has taught me anything it’s that I can survive and thrive and be okay anywhere I go. So I’m going to scale some mountains that have been calling my name for a long time. It’s time to meet them where they are.

I’ll have much more to say in the coming weeks about my move out of New York and into Florida. If nothing else, it’s going to be great material. It’s all great material.