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A Year of Yes: Using this time for reflection

“Something will grow from all you are going through. And it will be you.” ~TobyMac

My medical emergency this week has offered me an opportunity for intense reflection time in every area of my life. I don’t have any answers or revelations yet. I’m still down in the weeds of it all. But I’m trying and healing. And right now, that’s enough.

In the pause: Happy Thanksgiving from New York City

23737930_10104014965393976_7867983202038481308_oA gorgeous and sunny Thanksgiving morning. Phin and I bundled up and went to Central Park. Thankful today for my sweet pup, Phineas, this gorgeous park, my homey Upper West Side neighborhood, and all dogs everywhere. And of course for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. 🐾🦃

 

Wonder: A look back at my 2016

Today as I travel to the Philadelphia area to ring in the new year, I’m thinking about the wonderful things that happened in 2016. I opened up my wonder jar that I created in January 2016, and this is what I found:

1.) I got a new job through a recruiter on LinkedIn in healthcare working with artificial intelligence. And it came with a promotion in title and a raise to boot!

2.) I went to Cuba, a lifelong dream trip, and met some fabulous people whom I’m sure I will travel with in the future.

3.) I moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood and discovered a whole new side of D.C.

4.) I went to Puerto Rico for a dear friend’s wedding.

5.) My amazing friends Ken and Tom got married, as did my dear friends Rachael and Jon. I was so thrilled to celebrate them and share in their joy with some of my favorite people in the world. Love wins!

6.) I made new friends, reconnected with others whom I hadn’t connected with in years, and had the best times spending time with so many friends whom I love.

7.) I turned 40, and had one of the very best birthday parties of my life thanks to wonderful friends.

8.) I finished my book Where the Light Enters, and a small press is considering publishing it.

9.) I greatly expanded my freelance writing opportunities, and am looking forward to even more of that in early 2017.

10.) Phineas came through a couple of difficult health challenges like a champ, and is now super healthy at the ripe old age of 7. We took a lot of long and happy walks together all over D.C. and we had plenty of snuggle time. I also found a great daycare / boarding place and a dog walker that take wonderful care of him.

11.) I saved a down payment with the hope of buying my very first home in 2017, and got my finances in order in a better way than ever before.

12.) I attended fun cultural events all over Washington, D.C. all year long.

13.) I had one of my collages accepted and shown at an art gallery in D.C.

14.) I expanded my personal art collection with works from all over the world that inspire me on a daily basis.

15.) I started the Breaking Bread Podcast.

16.) I had the chance to support a number of nonprofits that I admire and that make this world a better place.

17.) I greatly enhanced my cooking and baking skills, churning out some delicious and nutritious meals from my kitchen.

18.) I worked on my first television project as an Associate Producer.

19.) I learned to trust my gut more than ever before. I laughed, I smiled, and I loved.

20.) I saw a ton of great live music in D.C. including Josh Ritter, Andra Day, Elephant Revival, 2 Cellos, Janelle Monae, Rhiannon Giddeons, The American Pops, Ben Harper, and Grace Potter.

21.) I created and taught creative writing workshops for kids at 826DC.

22.) I got to shine a light on creative entrepreneurship, art, and writing through The Relational Economy, American Public Media, the Lits to Lens podcast, and the What’s Next videocast.

I’m sure 2017 will bring many more blessings and learnings. And that wonder jar was a wonderful thing. I plan to start a new one tomorrow in honor of the new year.

Wonder: A much-needed pep talk and 5 things to be grateful for every day

“You aren’t doing great, but you aren’t drowning and that is something.” ~The Secret Life of Pets (Duke to Max)

My sweet friend, Cara, has been doing an exercise on Facebook that I really love. Every day she posts 5 things she’s grateful for. These aren’t the same, stale, stereotypical responses to questions like this. She gets down into the details. These are 5 practical things that made her life better that day. They are often small things, things that we overlook all too often, and I always look forward to reading her posts. With Christmas around the bend and the new year not far behind, I’m inspired to take up this idea, too. So on my social media platforms, you’ll see a nod to 5 things that I appreciate that day. Because look, things may not be better, but recognizing the good makes me feel better, and that, as Duke would say, is something.

Wonder: The greatest lesson of life

One of the greatest blessings of being Phineas’s mom is that he makes me remember that every moment counts. There isn’t a single walk, snuggle, or smile that I take for granted with him. Yesterday when I had to take him to the ER for his back again, I was reminded, painfully so, that we have only so much time and that every day is a gift that we are never promised. Each day deserves the best we can give. There isn’t any time to waste. While I wish that realization wasn’t so heavy, maybe it needs to be. Maybe that truth is so significant that we need to feel the weight of it to really understand it.

For the next few days I’ll be home for most of the time monitoring Phineas to make sure his medication and rest is working. I’ll be writing, doing yoga, and meditating on just how lucky I am to care for a being that has taught me the most important lesson of life with absolute certainty—that we must do as much good as we can wherever we are with whatever we’ve got, and be grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Wonder: A walk through D.C. to clear my head

On Tuesday nights I play in a bocce league. I walk from my office in Arlington through Georgetown, past the White House, and then to downtown D.C. to the court. It’s a magical ~4 mile path.

Yesterday my brain was tired after work. I’m learning coding in addition to writing dialogue for our AI product, getting up-to-speed on the healthcare industry’s best practices, processing and pulling apart medical triage guidelines (with plenty of medical vocabulary that’s brand new to me!), and planning our product’s strategy, pricing, marketing, and testing. It’s a lot and I needed a good, long walk to clear my head.

As I wound my way through this city yesterday, I fell in love with this city a little more with every step. The architecture, colors, light, water, pattern of the streets, iconic symbols of our country, and people. All of it just dazzled me. It lifted me up out of my tired fog and into a state of supreme gratitude. Movement creates a movement.

This just in: Travel makes me grateful

The magnificent city of Pest as seen from Buda's Castle at sunset

The magnificent city of Pest as seen from Buda’s Castle at sunset

Travels helps me count my blessings. After a full night of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling so grateful. Grateful for the chance to travel and learn about different cultures, and grateful to live in the U.S. and call it home. Sarajevo is a sad city, plagued by geographic isolation, the legacy of the war and communism, poor health of the people (70% of them smoke), and a true lack of opportunity. Budapest is bustling, thriving, and full of life. The two are in such stark contrast to one another and couldn’t have been more different.

And then I landed at Washington National airport, and my eyes opened up even wider. We are so lucky here. We have everything we need to build a good life for ourselves. Certainly our country has problems and challenges and its own wounds that need tending and healing. What we do have is possibility and potential. And while potential alone can’t get things done, it does provide the fuel we can use to build something beautiful and meaningful.

Travel is a gift that keeps on giving. It gives us empathy and understanding for cultures not our own, and then it also helps us appreciate what we have at home in our everyday lives. It’s a realization I hope I never lose.

This just in: The universe is always conspiring for us

Thanks, Universe

Thanks, Universe

“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” ~Rumi

No matter what happens to us, the good and the bad, I try to remember that the universe, the prana, is on my side. It wants all of us to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. When unfortunate things happen to me I try to (eventually) realize that this is actually something beneficial to me in the long-run. Unfortunate events steer me away from something, someone, or someplace, because there’s a better option out there that I need to find or there’s a change I need to make. And since I’m not one to settle for less than what I want, an unfortunate event forces me to set out on a journey, external or internal, even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going or how I’ll get there.

This attitude also helps me to trust in a greater and grander view than I can see from my perspective. It means I trust that even though I don’t fully understand why something’s happening to me, I have faith that somewhere down the line it will make sense to me. I’ll be able to look back and see why things that seemed so unfortunate in the moment are blessings in hindsight.

This perspective isn’t always easy to maintain, especially in the thick of the moment. But I’ll tell you this – it’s never failed me. Never. Every unfortunate thing that’s ever happened to me has always made my life better in the grand scheme of things. It just takes time. I trust that this will always be the case. It has to be. After all, would you mess with the universe?

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