I 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.
Category: New York
Inspired: My New York State of Mind
I love New York, right down to my bones. However, housing prices are out of control. It is time to completely disrupt real estate here to spur creativity, innovation, and a rebirth of art and culture. New York is losing its edge because the people with edge can’t afford sky-high rents and the ridiculous hurdles to getting an apartment. That’s why my latest projects, still in the very preliminary stages, are two tiny drops in what I hope will be a sea change for this city that I love so much. They’re ideas to encourage and support the boldest, most creative people in their pursuits to do well and do good right here in the Big Apple by making housing much more affordable and easier to attain. More details soon…
Beautiful: In New York, We Are Stars to Each Other
I had dinner with my friend, Amanda, on Wednesday night. Though we are people who love and crave time in the natural world, we both made the decision to live in New York City for its cultural diversity and creative opportunities. Still, in these bleak months of winter with its heavy gray skies and meager hours of sunlight, my thoughts often turn to a different kind of life in a different kind of place that involves more trees and less concrete. You can take the girl off the farm, but that doesn’t mean you can make her forget its wonders.
Amanda and I talked about how much we miss the stars. While in New York City, you’ll gaze up at the sky to catch a glimpse of a handful of sparkly specks. Get out of the reach of the city lights and we are reminded that there is a galaxy with an infinite number of stars nestled into the darkness. I miss those stars; I miss the awe that they inspire and the perspective they provide. How can I have all the richness of the New York experience and still gaze at the stars? Is it possible to have both?
I thought a lot about this conversation as I wound my way from New York’s Little India to Times Square to catch the subway home. In a city like New York that has so few stars in the sky by which to navigate, we have to look for the stars among the people around us like my friend, Amanda.
While I miss those twinkling lights that I’ll never reach way up high, there’s something really precious and beautiful about being able to know and love the stars who light our way at ground level. We have to be one another’s True North.
Leap: Get 12 Free Weeks to the Digital Version of The New York Times
Here’s my perfect Sunday morning: Waking up in a sunny room to coffee, CBS Sunday Morning, The New York Times, and Phineas.
The New York Times has been a big part of my life since I was a child. My dad relished the Sunday version. I remember him reading it cover to cover. We weren’t allowed to touch it until he was done with it and he was the only one allowed to touch the crossword puzzle, which he did in pen (as opposed to pencil.) Now you understand the yardstick I’m up against when it comes to measuring my own abilities.
How I Grew to Treasure The Times
One summer Sunday I remember seeing the travel section of The Times Magazine. I called every 1-800 number and ordered a catalog to the far-flung corners of the world that I hoped to visit someday and they started piling up in our mailbox in droves. It felt like Christmas. I kept them stashed away under my bed and I’d look at them every day, dreaming of the days when I’d get to travel. I think I was about 8.
And that sealed the deal for me. The Times and I were partners for life. It gave me the chance to dream of what life would, could, and should be when I grow up. I’ve been an avid reader of it all of my adult life. It is the #1 news source I go to.
Getting on the Inside
A few years after my travel catalog spree, my fascination with the organization behind the paper caused me to read Gay Talese’s The Kingdom and the Power. 5 times. (My mother always stressed that I was a “special” child.) I never dreamed of working there, but I did want to know what life was like on the inside of that hallowed institution.
At SXSW 2011, I went to see the documentary Page One and had the chance to meet David Carr, one of my journalism idols. (I highly recommend the film; it’s incredibly well done!) At the end of the documentary, I had an excellent sense of why they decided to change their policy and begin charging for their online subscriptions. The level of in-depth reporting they do around the world requires a good deal of funding. I’ve benefited from it for so many years and I decided in that moment that once the new pricing went into effect, I would become a subscriber.
Win a Digital Subscription to The Times
And now I want all of you to have that chance, too! As a subscriber, I have the opportunity to give away a free 12 week digital subscription to The Times to someone who doesn’t yet have a subscription and I want to offer it up to the readers of this blog who constantly support me and my endeavors. Just leave me a comment on this post and I’ll select a winner at random on Monday evening, letting you know who the winner is on Tuesday.
Leap: My 2012 Resolution, Four and a Half Years in the Making
In 2007, I graduated from business school, where I wrote a few feature columns for my school’s newspaper thanks to my friend, Alice, who was the Editor-in-Chief. I had always wanted to be a writer but was never sure I was talented enough to make a go of it. I really enjoyed the writing and a lot of my classmates complimented the columns. At graduation, my friend, Stephen, asked me if I intended to keep writing. I smiled, looked down at the ground, and said I wasn’t sure. “You should start a blog,” he said. I laughed. “Who would read it?” I asked. “I would read it,” he said. One reader was enough for me. It was a start, a beginning, and that was really all I needed.
The week after graduation, I sat on the couch in my living room in Charlottesville surrounded by moving boxes, opened Google, and typed in “free blogging software.” Blogger came up. I had an account from when I started my first blog, Eyes and Ears Wide Open, way back in 2004. It was private because I wasn’t sure at that time that I wanted strangers reading about my life. (How funny that seems now that I live much of my life online!) I reactivated my account and started the blog Christa In New York as a way of unleashing a writer who had been kicking around in me for many, many years.
How I learned to write
After a year and a half of bumbling around learning how to write, I decided I wanted to become a really good writer and the only way I knew how to make that happen was to practice every day. And the sure-fire way to make that happen would be to publicly promise as my 2009 resolution that I would write and publish every day. I kept my resolution and in 2009, I wrote every day about hope. My greatest lesson from that writing journey was that the more often we look for hope, the more likely we are to find it.
In 2010, I bundled up all of that hope and put my daily efforts toward crafting an extraordinary life. I discovered the truth that we build an extraordinary life by finding something extraordinary in ordinary moments.
To amp up my extraordinary living, I used 2011 as a year of new beginnings so that I could get into a beginner’s mindset – exploring, experimenting, and tinkering. As 2011 drew to a close, I wondered for a long time about how I could best make use of this beginner’s mindset. Where would I go from here?
Was there an ending in all this beginning?
I wondered if this would be the end of this blog altogether. I wondered if all this beginning was leading me toward an ending of this chapter. To experiment with that idea, I gave up writing on the weekends for a couple of weeks. I missed posting every day so much that I quickly reversed that decision. Four and a half years later, writing has become an integral part of who I am and how I spent my time. It brings me a lot of joy – and that’s the #1 reason I keep at it.
Perhaps another ending was in order. I briefly considered leaving New York and relocating to the west coast. That caused me to look differently at my city. Was I really ready to move? Could I really leave behind 4+ years worth of effort building a life I love? In about a month’s time, I reversed that decision, too. New York is my home, as crazy and unpredictable as it is. It’s where I belong and that’s a joyful thing to feel.
To solve this riddle, I began to look around at the other areas of my life assessing what brings me joy and what doesn’t. I love my yoga teaching and the healthcare field fascinates me. I adore stories – written, spoken, acted, and sung. I’m passionate about doing good work for people who need help and don’t know where or to whom to turn. I’m happiest when I’m making my own choices.
An ending found
The area of my life that seems to deplete me the most is the place where I spend 40+ hours / week. Though I’m incredibly grateful for the financial stability and experience I’ve gained as part of a large company, the work doesn’t inspire me and it’s not the best use of my skills. I’ve made a number of very good friends there whom I’m sure I will know all of my life. I’ve learned so much there, about the economy, the world, and myself. As 2011 drew to a close, I became acutely aware that I have learned all that I want to learn there. It’s time to move on.
I began to look around, applying to jobs that seemed mildly interesting. I interviewed and received a few offers, though in the end they all seemed to be variations on a theme, a theme I already had in my current job. After a few months, I could see myself in those new roles, unhappy with the circumstances and no better off than I am at my current job. If I wanted the job of my dreams, I would have to build it.
A beginning that was here all along
And so I realized that Compass Yoga could provide me with everything I wanted in a job – I could teach, write, be part of the healthcare field, and help people who really needed the help. I had the job I wanted all along. The trick is now to turn how I make a life into making a living.
So there it is, my 2012 resolution: to make the leap from my job into Compass Yoga full-time. It’s going to be a long and winding road, with many different twists, turns, stops, and starts along the way. I’ll be securing my footing along the path that I know I’m supposed to walk even though I’m not yet sure of all the steps I’ll need to take. Every day in 2012, I’ll be writing about this journey and I hope you’ll join me as this path is paved. Welcome to the beginning of a transformation a long time in the making. And happy new year!
Beginning: Ringing in Spring at the New York Dachshund Spring Fiesta
Phin and I went to the semi-annual NY Dachshund Spring Fiesta yesterday. By 1:30, Washington Square park was filled with hundreds of dachshunds and their parents were enjoying the sunshine, warmth, and fun. Dachshunds are a funny breed because they really do seem to know when they are among other dachshunds. It’s a place to share stories, get advice, and generally tell one another how much we adore this breed.
The event is held the last Saturday of every April and the first Saturday of every October. Only in New York City do you find these kinds of off-the-wall events and hundreds of people who diligently mark their calendars to attend every time. What’s more, there were plenty of people who don’t have dachshunds and come out just to take a look at all of the varied examples of this special pup.
I had to share some pictures with you, the lyrics of the Dachs Song (yes, they have their own anthem!), as well as my favorite quotes of the day. Enjoy, and join me in October! Phin will be glad to introduce you around.
My Favorite Quotes:
“This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“No, we don’t have a dog. We’re just here to have a great time with everyone else’s wiener.”
“There’s no way you can keep a dachsie down. You can’t put baby in a corner.”
Lyrics and melody to the Dachs Song
Paul de Vries, Adrian Milton, & Murray Weinstock
To hear the Dachs Song, visit http://www.dachsong.com/
“There’s no other dog like a dachshund,
walking to close to the ground.
They’re stubborn and sly as a fox
and the happiest pet to be found.
Most kinds of dogs seem to either have
shapes or proportions all wrong.
They’re only one way or the other,
but dachshunds are both short and long.
Dachsie, meine dachsie,
the best canine under the sun.
Call you wiener or sausage or hot dog,
We know that you’re number 1.”
My Year of Hopefulness – The Woods Can Wait
I woke up at 5:45 on Sunday morning with the feeling that it was Christmas. I could barely sleep I was so excited. My friend and writing partner, Laura, made plans a few weeks ago to head up to Lake Minnewaska today with a group called Adventure Society. I’ve been interested in trying out their trips for over a year and Sunday was the day.
Got a new backpack, some gear at Patagonia, and bought a slew of snacks at Whole Foods. I was a bit surprised at the extensive “to-bring” list that Adventure Society emailed to us. My sister, Weez, and I used to go trekking up to that area regularly when we were kids donning sweatshirts and flip-flops. I grew up very close to Lake Minnewaska, and all we ever brought along was a bag of chips and some water. Maybe when you grow up in the mountains you’re hardier than most others would be in that climate.
The subway was just not working properly so after waiting for 20 minutes, I hopped into a cab and headed to the meeting spot on 59th and 9th. I didn’t want to be late and miss the group – they stated very clearly that “we wait for no one”. Laura was there along with a few others. I wouldn’t call the other people unfriendly, but I certainly wouldn’t say I was excited about being in a van with them for two hours in each direction. Hmmmm….was this a good idea?
About 20 minutes later, we were still at Starbucks. Apparently our trip leader had been mugged late on Saturday night, had the van keys, and couldn’t be located. The substitute trip leader said he was heading down to 39th and 9th to pick up a new van. I felt a little dark cloud making its way over our group.
By 8:30, I started to really questions whether or not this was a good idea. Still at Starbucks, the traffic would be tough now and the trip would be cut short by a significant amount. Being quicker than I am to pick up questionable vibes, Laura had decided 15 minutes ago that this didn’t sound like a good idea at all. So we bid our group farewell, left the Starbucks, and headed up to Central Park on a hike of our own.
We wound our way East and then back West again. We eventually ended up at Sarabeth’s with never-empty cups of coffee, a plate full of pancakes between us to share with our own individual meals to boot. I was overjoyed to not be in that van. Just being with a good friend, talking about our writing, was all I really needed this morning. The trees and grass and squirrels would have been great, though our ability to be flexible and accept to what the world had handed us today gave us just as much happiness.
“We can just go some other time,” I said.
“Yes,” Laura said. “I mean, where are the woods going?” We smiled at each other and chowed down.
We had a whole free day. Laura went home to work on the TJCC site re-design. I went back to my apartment, got out of my multiple layers of hiking clothes, and made my way to the Rose Main Reading Room to be a writer for the day. Sitting in that incredible room, laptop shining, I smiled at having the day to myself to live inside my imagination. (If ever you need to be concentrated and inspired, I highly recommend the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.) My new Patagonia pull-over was supposed to be used for hiking in the mountains and instead I made use for it in the heavily air conditioned library. I was enormously productive. After four hours of straight writing, it’s a safe bet that if you’re looking for me on my free days, there I’ll be, fourth table from the back, glasses on, laptop opened, surrounded by books and papers, typing away.
As I headed home, I grabbed a cupcake from Crumbs, and thought about Robert Frost: The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles [to write] before I sleep, and miles [to write] before I sleep. “At least for today,” I thought, “the woods will just have to wait.”
The photo above is not my own. It can be found here.
My Year of Hopefulness – The Music Prodigy Down the Street
Last night my friend Richard and I stopped in to a piano competition at Symphony Space, a performing arts organization that has an incredible slate of programming. I’d never been to a piano competition and wasn’t sure if I’d like it but it was only $5 so I figured it was worth at least checking out. Little did I know that just down the street there were several virtuoso piano players offering up a concert for a next-to-nothing ticket price.
All over the country, these piano competitions are happening any given night of the week. Performers are young and yet undiscovered musicians who have gone to conservatory and now enter as many competition as they can in an effort to boost the potential of their careers. They dedicate their lives to their art. And so few of them ever make it despite the immense talent within each of them. And to get by they work at The Gap or as temps in high rise office buildings. Think of the incredible artistic ability of temp staffs buried in the gray cubicles of New York’s law firms and financial institutions.
So where is the hope in this? Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of young, talented musicians will never be discovered, never receive any acclaim, never achieve their dream of making their living through music. Or can they?
I emailed a friend of mine who works at Teach for America. A handful of corps members teach art or music in public schools. So look at the gap: a huge numbers of schools suffer from a complete lack of music and art education programs and a huge number of people in this world want to earn their living from music. I understand that most of these students want to earn their living from performance though wouldn’t they prefer to have a teaching job rather than taking phone messages and selling mass-market clothing until their time in the spotlight arrives?
It seems to me that this is a gap waiting to be filled. I know that funding for art and music is tough to come by but with all this talent in the world and all the students who want and need an arts education, we can’t let funding stand in the way. You can bet that I’m going to be looking into this further. There’s too much kismet to let this challenge continue unanswered.
NY Business Strategies Examiner.com: an interview with Cathy Gins, Founder of Aromawear
I had the pleasure of talking to Cathy Gins, Founder of Aromawear, this week. Cathy designs fully customizable aromatic jewelry that combines her 17 years of design experience at Avon with her work as a practitioner of Therapeutic Touch, Reconnection Healing, and Clinical Aromatherapy. Inside each piece is space for a small felt wick that is designed to be scented with a therapeutic oil. The wicks pop in and out of the jewelry very easily, without causing any damage to the jewelry, so that you can adjust the scent you want around you depending on your need at the time. Stressed? You might want to try some lavender. Need to feel motivated? peppermint, lemon, or a citrus scent will help. Feeling under the weather? Try eucalyptus cold relief or a blend called Thieves, which has antibacterial properties and was used by medical workers during the Plague to provide relief. And all of these wicks can be packed into a convenient, pocket-sized traveling case.
For the full article, please visit http://www.examiner.com/x-2901-NY-Business-Strategies-Examiner~y2009m2d19-Aromawear-wellness-you-take-with-you
Why is it that people in cars in New York City feel they have the right to tell people how to park, where to park, and when to move their cars? And why do they think it’s okay to do that by screaming at others from their own cars? I returned to New York today with my sister, brother-in-law, and baby niece for a vacation. We found a parking space right in from of my building with enough room to easily move in and out of when leaving.