Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life Never Fails to Give You What You Need

Election Night 2008. I remember the night clearly. Rushing from the office around 7:30PM, meeting at a friend’s house where 10-15 people were gathered. Watching the election returns and feeling the excitement that rippled through Soho, extended in to the East and West Villages and straight up to Times Square. It wasn’t long before we had an answer. It started as a whisper, “guys, I think he did it…” Then it was a celebration. Champagne was popped, toasts were made, and cheers were heard in the city streets. Our team had won. Barack Obama was the winner, and the new president of the United States. He had defeated John McCain. We were in a blue state and the blue guy had won.

Tears were shed in the room as our whispers were confirmed, and we headed into the streets of Manhattan to celebrate with 6 million of our ‘neighbors’. What a night to be a democrat. What a night to be a New Yorker. What a night to be where you fit in.
Its been 4 years since that night. Tonight, I worked late as I did in 2008. I left the office after 8:30PM, being the only one in my office of 3 who was anticipating every tick on the electoral vote to file in and be shaded in on Chuck Todd’s electoral map in ‘Democracy Plaza’. I rushed home and into my pjs and in front of my TV to see what Brian Williams had to say. I dusted off a bottle of wine from the wine rack, and poured a glass just as I had in 2008, to sip while the anticipation built.  
But unlike 2008, this election night would be spent alone. Sure, the thought of organizing a ‘return party’ had crossed my mind. But here in the South, cobbling together enough ‘Blue Blooders’ to be called a gathering is tough; and not that it’s about party lines or politics, finding a group of people who are passionate enough to celebrate the democratic values of our country is equally challenging. So I enjoyed the night alone, and celebrated just as much internally as I did in 2008, to see the candidate I voted for win four more years in the White House.
Reminiscing is good. Comparison can be healthy.
As I pause and reflect on where life was four years ago, and where it has led me and where it seems to be going, I realize learning to be alone has always been one of those ‘needs’ I had to learn. It was a necessity, and life did not disappoint to show me how to live independently, to be strong on my own, to be no one else but me.
Sure, I would prefer spending election night with my fellow comrades and not have it be a solo affair. But should it happen in 2016, 2020, or 2024, I will be fine. Or even in 2028J Being home has allowed me to be me, whether alone or in the masses, or perhaps alone in the masses of this red blooded state.
Whether we learn to hold tight to who we are due to politics, or relationships or friends or jobs or whatever the reason…Its one of the greatest values we can ever gain in life.
Yes, life never fails to disappoint. It always prepares us for what is coming next -- whatever that might be.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

There is Always A Train at the Station

This morning, while rushing to the subway to catch an uptown train to Columbia, several thoughts were darting in my mind as I made my way into the station. Mostly my thoughts centered on today's lesson plan - target audience, market segmentation, overall marketing objectives, etc. (you gotta keep these high schoolers busy!)...As I got to the station I noticed my preferred "A train" was just leaving the station. Crap. Guess I will be waiting awhile.
But, wait... Here comes the E train! And as the idea of taking an alternate train circled my mind, I knew that route would take longer, and drop me off just before my desired location, making me change trains once more before getting on the train that would take me where I needed and wanted to go. So I waited it out, and just as I got to the 'sweet spot' on the platform that would allow me to exit the train in the exact spot I needed to in order to make a smooth transistion, the roar of a train behind me fills my head signalling the arrival of another 'A train'. Ten seconds later, I am seated with my AM New York newspaper and heading uptown just as I anticipated.

Getting to work on a Friday morning is much like marketing... and maybe much more like life.  Everything you do should depend on what your overall goal is. Is your goal simply to get on the train? Well, then any train will do. Is it to get uptown as fast as possible? Then an express train is best. But if your goal is to get to your chosen location? That involves a plan and a strategy, looking for opportunities and taking the ones that work best for you, for your situation... as not just ANY train will take you there. 

Because getting on a train to nowhere you want to go only ensures you will not want to be there once you arrive. That goes for marketing, as it does relationships, as it does life.

Knowing what you want is half the battle. Having the patience to allow it to arrive is the real test. Because there will always be a train entering the station. Just as there will be guys to date, and trips to plan, and jobs to apply for. But not all - and maybe not any in the pool - will take you where you want to go.

Maybe before any of us enter the station of our choice (be it the job market, the car pool, the dating pool, or maybe just the streets of New York) we take a few moments to strategize, to finalize our plan, to know what it is we want... So that when we see it, we know. Because there will always be a train entering the station; and more likely than not, its not the one we need at that exact moment. But if we wait just a minute or two, the right one eventually shows up, and then we can be on our way to our chosen destination just as we invisioned.

Friday, June 1, 2012

There are Those Still in Need of a Sippy Cup

Last night, while watching my favorite late night comedian, a headline on the Daily Show caught my eye: Mayor Bloomberg Limits Soft Drinks to just 16 ounces. The routine around this headline was amusing and made me chuckle at the idiocracy of needing/wanting to drink more than 16 ounces of anything other than water. Then again on the Today Show, Michael Bloomberg joined Matt Lauer for a conversation on the subject and it made me ponder the issue even more.

When we reach the age of 18, we are considered an adult. We can vote. We have our freedom from our parents. We can make choices for ourselves. We can go and do as we please. But do we know how to do that? Can we make the best choices for ourselves?

As I have shared my support for the Mayor's debate with others, I have heard the same argument over and over: The government is trying to limit our freedom! They are taking away our choices! They are telling us what we can and can't do!

Yet, as a follow up to each of their arguments, they never fail to add: But I don't drink soft drinks, except diet soda. Or I only buy 12 ounce bottles.

Translation: The mayor's bill doesn't effect you! You are an adult who can make adult choices for yourself. Good for you.

Shortly after the most verbose debate of the morning began, my nephew wandered in my office and went straight to his toy shelf. (Its his obligatory task to move the giant fire truck to the floor and then find something else to occupy his time). He then pulled up a chair and began drawing on the white board, with his mom telling him he had 10 minutes and then they had to go. As his time ran out, he pushed for more, only to be told he had other places to be. He had to have an adult assist him in his choices, because left up to him he would have spent the afternoon drawing in my office, and maybe finally played with the firetruck. He is only four. He needs guidance.

Yet, how many times in our daily interactions with society do we witness those with no will power or limits and they need guidance in their choices as well? They may order a supersized soda (32 ounces, 400 calories) with the thought they will only consume half. But more often than not, they drink it all and go back for refills all because they can, and they are usually free. Do this a few times a week, and at the end of the month you have added enough calories to pack on a few pounds. Added pounds and too much sugar is what the Mayor is trying to limit, not choices or options.

If we are not wise enough to choose wisely on a day-to-day basis for ourselves as adults, then why shouldn't the goverment step in as an advisory committee to help us make wiser choices? In New York City, it is law that all restaurants with more than 83 locations (which usually means fast food, and chain restaurants that make their money from serving poor quality food choices at lower prices) MUST show the calorie count on all their menus. Its a choice if you still order it, but the city wants you to know how many calories you are ingesting if you do.

Under Bloomberg's legislation, if you really want 32 ounces of soda, you can still have it. The only difference is having to deal with the cumbersome load of carrying around two 16 ounce cups.

Bloomberg's goal: awareness. Not limits.

While we may be adults, and not want someone telling us what to do like when we were 4 years old, there are those that still need some guidance. If helpful guidance allows you to live better and feel better comes from the government is that such a terrible thing? While we are no longer toddlers and in need of hand holding in many ways, there are those members of our society that could still use a sippy cup when it comes to portion control. All Bloomberg is saying is if you want more, you can lug around two sippy cups; he doesn't want it to be easy to consume more than our adult bodies really need.

So, is it goverment trying to limit us as a society? Or is it just those that are limited in their thinking that think that is the case?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Missing Sock

Today was a bit of a rarity. At least for me. After spending three hours at Starbucks this morning, both working, catching up with friends and shattering my iphone (the latter being a whole other chapter to itself), I returned home to do what I never do. (And I can say 'never' as I truly never do it, and until date have never done it.) I cleaned my oven. With oven cleaner. And a full roll of paper towels! I felt like a million bucks afterwards, as in addition to a clean oven, I have fresh laundry, a clean bathroom and mopped floors. All things I would NEVER opt for on a Saturday. But I am proud of myself, as these are the small joys in life that often elude me, as living solo how often do you need to clean deep enough that guests would notice a freshly clean bathroom... or a shiny oven, for that matter? (Although during dinner tonight, I learned there is a fancy 'self cleaning' oven feature I had no clue about!... This post could take on a whole meaning had the time between 'spray 6-10 inches from surface' and 'let soak' and 'wipe clean after 20-30 mintues)

During these oven cleaning breaks, I steadied myself in my laundry 'room' trying to piece together pieces that had ended up in the 'miscellaneous sock bucket'.. and there were a lot. Fifty plus socks or so to be exact. All without a mate. All in search of one. ALL knowing that at one point they came paired, and for some reason -- laundry error, user error or a true case of finders keepers -- they are not anymore.

As I dealt with missing foot coverings for a solid 30 minutes, I remembered all the missing sock stories from my life. My college roommate discovering that it wasn't ONLY her mother's laundry skills that resulted in missing mates (apparently this was hereditary). An ex who would scour and contemplate for days until he unearthed items pertaining to the feet. Hundreds of DIY laundry spots whose namesake was dedicated to missing items pertaining to the feet. Or the Chinese laundry joints I would use when living in the NE that often returned others 'missing feet' in my laundry pile, and I don't even want to think which parts of my own laundry ended up in another's pile. And yet today, I was dealing with a full basket of missing feet. A whole basket of one minus the half. One sock short of a pair. One foot covering short of being able to go out for a run, a sexy outfit, or cozy feet on a frigid morning.

As per my norm, the mindless act of sock mating turned to relationships, and I as I matched and mated, I wondered how many people I know have been tossed in the missing sock pile, and was it possible that I was one of them? How many people are one sock short of having their best day/date ever? Their most enchanting meeting yet? How many people are simply waiting on their other/better half to get on with it all? To get out of the bin and into the game? Is that all it really takes, is the other half to get those with a missing half out of the bin and into the life of the living?

(Needless to say, laundry is rarely ever just 'laundry' with me. Nor anything else for that matter!)

When I finished pairing what could be paired, I still have 6-9 pieces left over. They all stayed in the basket just above the washing machine. I placed them there after much speculation... As after studying so many black trouser socks, with various patterns and nuances, it dawned on me at the end of my 'foot' journey, that some I had previously mated might have been better suited for some that were now in the official 'lost and found'... and I had to wonder if that is the way it is with life and our mating patterns.

Is there a perfect match for everyone? Do we come onto Earth knowing who we are to be with and we figure out to find them in our journey? Do we figure out who is best for us along the way? Or is it all happenstance? Are we all just players in a game of 'the missing sock' where sometimes we are mated and sometimes we are left on our own? Is there a science to it all? Or is life and mating the ultimate game of laundry where some are better at it than others, and the others just remain 'missing socks' until their mate magically appears?

Laundry, like life, seldom makes total sense. Whether simple or complex "the missing sock" is a mystery we all seek to solve, from college days to life after 101's. Who knows when the mystery truly ends... maybe its a first date, an anniversary date, or a wedding date... Or maybe for some of us its a feeling we seek, the feeling of completeness regardless of title...because ANYTHING is better than 'that missing sock!'

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alot can happen in 21 days.

How funny life is. I say stop. It says go. I say solo. It says duo.
And so I allowed myself to meet someone intriguing. Someone who like me, is capable of talking about 5000 different things in 5 minutes. And given the huge role travel plays in each of our lives, in the past few days, we have had many 'going anywhere and everywhere conversations', which is simply thrilling to me as my current location on the globe doesn't lend itself to many conversations of this sort.
Last night, as I bid this very nice gentleman adieu until late March, or maybe April, or maybe who knows (he's gets paid to be a wanderluster full-time), it dawned on my that alot can and will probably change in the next three weeks that he is 'working'.
And here is why...
If life were a train station, I am at that station. Granted, I am not waiting on the platform. Nor am I sitting on a train. But I am a little bit beyond being in a cab and pulling up to station. More or less, I am waiting in line at the ticket counter, simply waiting for my ticket to get printed. Will that happen next week? Two weeks from now? Maybe early next month? I have no clue. But I do know it will happen.
And just like that great big board at all major transportation junctures with destinations and ETAs and ETDS, ETC, listed, the ticket being printed for me will match one of the destinations listed and I will be off to explore new avenues. And that may or may not happen before this very intriguing individual gets back.
When you know so much is flux, 21 days seems like a very long time. Worlds can change over night. And tomorrow can look very much different than today. As every hour, new decisions are made, plans revised, meetings planned, tickets printed... And it makes me wonder and really ask the question with a true question mark: Where will I be in 21 days?
Its scary and thrilling at the same time. Who knows when I am heading out? Who knows when Mr. Wanderlust will get back? Who knows if there will be time for another 'going everywhere type of conversation'? Yet, at the same time, I know that the true Wanderlusters kind of pod together in life, and time and distance and locations seldom matter. The differences only make it more intriguing to see what Life will allow to happen.
For many times, when we feel like we missed the boat or the train has left the station or the plane has taken off, we realize we arrive at the moment WE are truly meant to depart and our mode of transportation for whatever adventure we are on is waiting at the gate for us, and it has a seat with our name on it... and that's when its our time to go. Whether thats in 21 days or not, at that moment, we know.

Monday, January 23, 2012

You Can't Rush Now

Its Monday night, so in typical Monday night fashion I left my apartment around 5:30PM and drove to Woodstock, GA for my Monday night yoga class. Its a Bikram class - or "hot yoga" - and I love that this is my Monday night ritual. "Hot" means you sweat (a ton!) so its my detox from the weekend (although since I havent been drinking I might need a new word), and I always leave class feeling more cleansed than when I came in.

The studio is in a new part of town in Woodstock. Its hip and fun, and very city-centric. The yoga space itself is very white, earthy and zen. Being in this space makes me happy, so NO MATTER WHAT has happened on Monday, being in this space is sure to put a smile on my face. I am going to leave happier than when I entered. Which is not a bad way to spend Monday evening, is it?

The practice of "hot yoga" always puts in my thoughts in orbit. I am not one of those people who has learned to meditate (although perhaps I should), so for me trying to hold a pose for 90 seconds is about as meditative as I get. I often find that in focusing on the movements of my body, my mind is freed up to go elsewhere -- and it usually does. As sweat pours from my body, my thoughts are on their own mission. Tonight was no different.

Jeff, tonight's instructor, always focuses on being present, or being in the "now". Focus on what is happening 'now' he always tells us. In each class Jeff teaches there are 26-postures. And after having done about 100 classes, I know each one of them by heart, and where my body more or less maxes out in each. Somedays I surprise myself by going a bit further, somedays I do less than I hope. There is still one pose that after 2+ years of Bikram, I still can't do. But I get closer to doing it all the time, and it makes me feel so good as I inch closer to completion, and I know one day I will get there. (tonight was a really good night for that one!) But as Jeff say, 'right now' this is where you are, so this is where you should be.

As my thoughts continued to wander -- right off the yoga mat and into the world where I interact with more than just 26-postures -- it dawned on me that yoga emulates life. Learning to be okay with the fact that I have one posture that still gives me issue, is the same as learning to be okay with the fact that in life there are some places I am not ready to be. Now. So as Jeff says, I shouldn't be there. I am not ready yet.

Wanting to be there (now) won't make it happen any faster. As most likely, in trying to rush the process I will end up missing a few things that I will have to go back and learn (which means I haven't really allowed the process to happen), or I will injure something that will need to heal and that will be a further set-back.

I am where I am. I must learn to be okay with that.

In having this thought, I ventured backwards in my life (yes, I realize that is the antithesis of 'now') to a point I was trying to rush things... or actually, to change previous decisions because I was disgruntled with where I am now. "Had I decided differently, I would be in a totally different place!" I would blast myself. Which may be true, but at the time I made my decision on what 'I know now'. And the only thing wrong with that, is allowing myself to feel guilty for what I didn't know... which doesn't make any sense! How can I hold myself hostage for something I didn't know at the time? That's not fair.

As humans, we simply are where we are. Some a bit ahead in some categories, some a bit behind in others. But its not a race, as we are not competing with anyone other than ourselves. Its just us, being here. Now. Maybe a bit ahead of yesterday, maybe a bit behind, but we are still here.

As a result, the goal is to focus on our own practice, where we are, and celebrate the victories that come with being in that space. There are people that will come along and want us to speed up, but maybe we are not there yet. (if they are to be someone significant, they will wait, if not, then they are not what we need). There are people that will want us to hold us down (and the vice versa from above can be said). There will be people on our same level that won't share our own personal 'now', and that is okay too.

What we need, always comes. If allow it. If we believe in it. If we forgive ourselves for not being where we might have preferred to be. If we love ourselves to know that 'here' is good for now. We will always get to where we want to go if we allow ourselves to get there.

That comes from a bunch of 'nows' that were allowed. That comes from constantly being 'here', wherever that might be. Allowing our own process to pursue. As it does, now.

If we are all on this Earth to lead our best life, then we have to start by being present. For life is happening 'now', today, right this minute. Its up to each of us to be everything we can right 'now', regardless where those are around us, regardless of where other's want us to be. If we focus on 'now', focus on where we are, then just like Monday night yoga as we move from one pose to the next, at some point we change, and without much anticipation, frustration, or worry, suddenly we are right where we want want to be. In the 'now' that fits us best.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Feasting during the Famine

Everyone knows life comes down to two phases. The old adage proves true time and time again. You are either living it up with everything you could want, or you are waiting for your time to come. Feast or famine. All or nothing. Yes or no.

The first two weeks of January I have been in the latter scenario. Squirreling away pennies. Limited social engagements. More exercise (which only fuels the famine). Being indoors. Etc. Etc. Its been a very low key year so far.

But in choosing a more low key start to 2012, I am already seeing the rewards. Any Christmas expenditures and bill hangover from 2011 is gone (and I didn't expect that to happen until mid-February!). I am ready for my race in Miami, and might possibly squeak out a decent time. I've written in some form everyday. And I am working on additional goals I have set for this year.

There is progress! There is reason to celebrate. Even in the middle of a famine. And that feels good.

There is a quote I kept seeing during my time in northern Florida at the end of last year, and it read "What you see depends on what you are looking for."

And in this scenario it does feel that way. By most social standards it might look like a famine. But to me, its starting to feel like a feast. For there is very little that compares to setting a goal and making it happen...and that is just where I am at!