creativity

My alive day — 13 years ago today

13 years ago today my New York City apartment building caught fire and I was almost trapped in the building. I used to think of this day as the worst day of my life. Now after all this time, I’ve made it into something that made me better. I became a writer and found Emerson. I learned the true value of my life. The PTSD I had got me into therapy so I could heal from trauma I’d had since childhood. It got me out of a terrible relationship and out of a job I hated. I adopted Phineas as an emotional support dog a year later.

A lot of people helped me in that immediate aftermath. They gave me a place to stay while I looked for a new apartment, helped me find my new apartment, gave me support at work, gave me the legal language to confront my landlord to get my deposit back and get out of my lease, let me borrow an air mattress, went to look at apartments with me, recommended a therapist, and 9 months before the fire had recommended rental insurance that saved me financially. So many checked on me regularly to see how I was doing. One recently checked on me after a large fire erupted in New York City earlier this year as he knows fires can still be a trigger for me. Healing takes a village, and I’m so grateful for mine.

Fire transforms everything it touches and it certainly transformed me. This healing was hard-won. I went through a lot of dark days to get here, almost ending it all at one low point. Though I’d never wish this experience on anyone, I wouldn’t wish it away for me. I have a few other big anniversaries of healing coming up. I’m not as at peace with those yet as I am with my fire. I hope time and distance will ease them, too.

creativity

For the love of pizza and fun

It’s almost the weekend so here’s something fun. I was interviewed for the They Had Fun podcast. Hear how my ability to wax poetic about New York City pizza in The New York Times sparked my friendship with the host, Rachel Josar, why my pandemic was a little extra, and the fun I had on The Drew Barrymore Show. It’s been a long 2 years for all of us. Let’s have more fun together!

Listen to the episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Fat Max… with Ed Gavagan They Had Fun

On this week's episode, storyteller and contractor, Ed Gavagan, tells us about hitting rock bottom in NYC but finding a little hope after having some fun all by himself in Soho!See Ed's story from the Moth, Drowning on Sullivan StreetCheck out Ed on InstagramHave fun like Ed? Donate to Cheyenne Botanic GardensCarl Andre's sculpture featured in the storyfind us at They Had Fun & on Instagram
  1. The Fat Max… with Ed Gavagan
  2. I Think They Really Thought I Was Pregnant… with Jen Toth
  3. At That Point, Poland Spring is Our Best Friend… with J Hype
  4. Just Say Yes… with Laura June Kirsch
  5. The Limo Would Be Parked Right In Front Of The Post Office… with Richie Weeks
creativity

A Year of Yes: What does your dream day look like?

Have you ever had a dream day? What happened? Who were you with? What lasting effect did it have on you?

I had one of my dream days yesterday and it was magical:

  • Interviewed a radiation oncologist for a piece I’m writing for The Washington Post about an innovative new cancer treatment that uses protons.
  • I spent the morning getting a private tour and digging through the archives at The Explorer’s Club. I was doing research for my second Emerson Page novel, and got to see art, travel diaries, photographs, and artifacts from around the world that were collected by our most intrepid explorers.
  • Then I had a fun meeting with the fine people at Untapped Cities about a new live performance project we’re working on together. Cannot wait to share more details with you!
  • Had a long overdue visit with a magical man who’s saved my life several times, and taught me to stand in my own light.
  • Dinner with my best friend.

To write, to research, to tell stories, to collaborate with others on creative projects, and to spend time with people who are central to my life. That is the perfect day for me.

creativity

In the pause: Stay close to people who feel like sunshine

“Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.” ~Anonymous

This may just be the secret to a happier, more joyful life. I love those people who lift us up just by their presence, who make us feel more alive, more hopeful, and more empowered to build a better world.

 

creativity

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.

creativity

In the pause: All we can do

Sometimes the best we can do is just show up. For our friends and for ourselves. People go through tough times. They need support and help. And we do, too. I’ve been talking to quite a few people lately who are dealing with a lot of difficulty. I wish I had answers for them. Actually, I wish I could just make the difficulties disappear. I try. I listen, and I try to come up with creative solutions. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m learning that the solutions aren’t the important part. What matters is that I show up, that I keep showing up. And if that’s all you do, too, that’s enough. It’s so much more than enough.

creativity

In the pause: The point of life and work

“Isn’t that the point? To apply what we know and what we’ve done in new ways?”

This is what I said to a friend of mine over the weekend. She’s interviewing for a new job that leverages a lot of her skills and interests. It’s a brand new industry for her, and she was feeling nervous for the interview as a result. Look, friends, if we aren’t taking risks, trying new things, and learning, then what is the point? Adaptation is the cornerstone of life, literally and figuratively. The world is changing so fast—in 5-10 years we’ll likely be working in industries and roles that don’t even exist yet. The best we can do is work hard, learn, and be good to other people as we go. Truly. Don’t be afraid of applying your talents in new ways; just do it. It’s what we’re all going to have to do.

creativity

In the pause: My 10-year MBA reunion at Darden

I spent the weekend happily disconnected from devices and reunited with my Darden MBA class to celebrate our 10-year graduation milestone. I went to reunion to be with friends far and near, and to revisit a place where I learned that anything is possible when we combine passion, purpose, and persistence. At Darden, I learned how to stand strong in my beliefs while balancing conviction and openness to new ideas and perspectives. It remains the greatest investment of my life, not only for the skills I gained and the knowledge I attained from my brilliant classmates and professors, but even more so for the deep friendships I found there. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and only grows more valuable with time. I loved seeing and hugging all of you, and am already looking forward to the next time we’re all together again. Until then, know that I’m rooting for all of you to live your happiest, most beautiful lives. The best is yet to come.

 

creativity

In the pause: My 10-year business school reunion

A week from now, I’ll be in Charlottesville at my 10th reunion with my dear Darden MBA friends. Those two years were joyful and difficult. They were filled with learning and challenges and triumphs. I was sometimes disappointed and sometimes elated. I failed and succeeded in equal amounts. I worked my tail off every single day. And the greatest thing I received there was not a degree but the amazing relationships I formed. We started that journey as classmates, students, professors, and staff members. Two years later, we were friends. And that is priceless. Can’t wait to give all of you a hug in a week!

creativity

In pause: You have more power than you think you do

“Enlightenment is that moment when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

We have more options than we think we do. I had two great back-to-back conversations yesterday that helped me realize just how many possibilities are open to me and how to bring them to fruition. It was one of the most empowering and hopeful afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Those conversations didn’t change any of my circumstances; they just helped me see things in a different way. They changed my mind and my perspective; in other words, they changed everything.