A Walk In the Park

Live life. Love others.


This picture was taken almost 10 years ago, and when I say ‘almost 10 years,’ I’m not just rounding up by a few months or years.  ‘Almost 10 years’ means: it’s been about 9 years and 11 months since this photo was taken.  At first glance, you see a park with a pond in the background.   You see a pothole, so the picture was probably taken in the middle of a not so busy street.  You see nine people smiling including a weak looking woman bundled up and sitting in a wheelchair.  You also see two gentlemen facing away from the camera on each side of the group.   You see by the outerwear of the group that it was probably a chilly, perhaps autumn, day.  You also might notice an overcast sky with the sun peaking out just enough to cast a light on this group of eleven.

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Jaded by Self Help Books


In recent years, I have found myself reading a great deal of literature about… finding myself.  The funny thing is that many of these books have had a way of coming into my life; I often don’t seek them out.  For example, a friend gave me a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin as a parting gift.  It sat in storage for a year, and I finally picked it up when I was stuck at home sick with pneumonia.  All that time, I hadn’t even known she had written a dedication on the inside over.  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg was another book that I happened to come across.  It was in new condition on the curbside near my apartment among a pile of free (and I use this word lightly) junk that a neighbor had put out.  I read it until it began to discuss in depth the use of habit studies by big corporations, but I liked what it had to say about our personal habit formations and the routines and cues we get into.  Another one I stumbled upon was the audiobook of Magical Mind, Magical Body by Depak Chopra at the library.  I listened to this whilst also reading The Power by Rhonda Byrne, which came into my home because a friend was lending it to my boyfriend.  I have liked the way these “self help” books have made me feel, and when they happen to show up in my life, I sort of take it as a sign from the universe that it “meant” for me to read.

Self-help is like the feel good genre of nonfiction.  They are enriching and often serve as great reminders that we are in control of our thoughts and actions.  From time to time, I need a new philosophy or perspective to explore.  If I’ve picked up a book of that sort, I obviously want to be inspired somehow.  However, I also find that consistently reading this kind of nonfiction is a tricky undertaking.  I have come to expect a jolt of enlightenment from a new life practice, and I sometimes forget to put what I have already learned – what I already know – into practice.  I once asked a friend if I should abandon these books altogether, and she advised me, “Read the book because you want to read it – not because you’re trying to get something out of it.”

As much as I’d like there to be one formula for figuring out my purpose in life, there is no one book that can accomplish this.  No matter how good it makes me feel or how much it makes me want to start my own happiness project or how it inspires me to meditate in the mornings, with self work, I have to remember to take everything I read with a grain of salt.  It’s as if each of the enriching books or articles I read is an ingredient in my spice cabinet.  If I’m going to make Indian curry, I’m going to need more than just the salt shaker.

At the end of the day, I still make recommendations or lend books out friends because well, you never know how it may or may not speak to them at the point in their lives when they finally decide to pick it up.

With that being said… For anyone doing a little soul searching, I recommend Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  It is fiction but will be the freshest perspective on the question of life that you will read.  Plus, it will make you laugh, I promise.

How about you:
Do you ever feel jaded by life philosophies?
What are some of your resources for life work and self development?  Do you ever have the need to take a break from them?

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The 53rd Gallery of the Vatican Museum

This is a guest post I wrote for the wanderlusters at (Sense)story Perception. It describes my “re-visit” to the Vatican Museum as a 20-something and my unexpected encounter with Henri Matisse…

(Sense)story Perception

Everyone’s hearts were pounding around me as we all ventured onward.


When my parents took me to Rome for the first time, I was 11 years old.  That was the first time I saw the Sistine Chapel.  Aside from the Creation of Adam, I remember most notably, the crowded, dim space and the guards ordering us to “Shhhhhhhh” every three minutes.  Why weren’t people allowed to talk? I wondered.

When I found myself in Rome again in my 20s, I was traveling solo and anxious to revisit the Sistine Chapel.  My parents weren’t there to plan out my itinerary this time around, so from my hostel, I searched on my iPhone how to go about planning a visit to the Sistine Chapel.  I had to go through the Vatican Museum.  Hmm, I don’t recall there being a Vatican Museum…

My intention was to spend at least an…

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Birthdays After 21

Last week, I turned 24. For the entire month of July, I was trying to figure out what turning 24 even meant. I wondered, Do I feel like a 24-year-old? Am in the career I need to be by 24? Am I in shape like a 24-year-old should be? I was basically asking myself if I ‘fit the role’ of a 24-year-old. Obviously, the answer to this question would get me no where. I have seen people define the age of 24 as a farewell to our early 20s or a quarter life crises. Neither of those sound appealing to me. I certainly don’t feel a crisis coming around, and I still feel youthful and driven (and I hope I always do). So, another year down, what does that mean for me?

For 23 years, birthdays have been about figuring out how to celebrate — What day should I celebrate? Where should we go? Who am I inviting? How am I going to treat myself? I’ve always loved getting presents and being special, but living 3000 miles away from my closest friends this year has led me to consider my birthday in a different light. I see this ‘anniversary’ as, above anything, an opportunity to assess the quality of my relationships, my health, and my peace of mind — everything that’s important to me. It’s a chance to check in with myself: Hey, you still doing okay? You feeling alive and healthy today? If the answer is no, then something in the next 12 months needs to be revitalized.

So, while 24 might not be my legal drinking year or a golden birthday or a silver birthday, it’s still a milestone in my eyes or, at least, an opportunity to CREATE milestones in my life. It’s an opportunity to celebrate, not everyday, but celebrate every DAY.


My nephew on his 4th birthday just a few weeks ago — happy as can be. 🙂

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Applying for Jobs Should Be Fun

I know in general it’s not… but it really should be.

If you’re in a phase in your life that you have to search for a new line of work, it should be a really exciting time.  Daunting sure, but exciting nonetheless.  This can apply to those who are currently in a job they hate and looking to change careers OR to those who have somehow arrived at this kind of crossroads in their life.  However you got to this unavoidable western culture phenomenon, you’re here, and societal pressures aside, you can go anywhere you want from here!  You can apply to anywhere you want.  You can BECOME anything you want.  How powerful!  You can ask yourself questions like, What goal do I want to chase?  What do I dare to dream?  It’s completely an open canvas for you.  Then, once you’ve figured out what your niche is, the application process begins.

This process is not just a series of “applications” that you send out to employers, but rather, it’s an application of everything you’ve learned in life about success and drive and perseverance.  That’s the real application.  You’re living out every inspirational quote you’ve ever been told about not giving up.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

“Winners never quit, quitters never win.”

“Fall 100 times, get up 101 times.”

Over the past month, I’ve gotten one (ONLY ONE) rejection response and NO callbacks from any of the dozens of jobs I’ve applied for.  The first few days of my job search were actually pretty enjoyable for me.  I defined my objective, envisioned my ideal job, and searched career networks for openings.  I was learning more about the food industry and about positions I didn’t even know existed.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the ideas for some of these startup companies.  I was especially inspired by the stories of some of these entrepreneurs.  ‘I could learn a thing or two from these people,’ I thought.  The possibility of working for businesses like that got my creative juices flowing.  I worked hard on my cover letters and resume and thought for surely these hiring managers would see the passion, interest, and overall potential oozing out of my applications.  After sending an application that I felt ‘really good about,’ I must admit, I would check my email like mad and wait by my phone in hopes that the company is going to contact me right away.  It’s like the first time you start dating someone; you get all giddy at the thought of them calling or texting you.  Eventually, however, if you’re only banking on one job application, that giddy feeling will turn sour fast — no matter how solid of an application you think it is.  When it turns out that hiring managers aren’t exactly lining up on you doorstep to hire you, reality will set in: there are hundreds of applicants just as passionate as you are… hundreds of people at this damn crossroads, too.  But to abandon your dreams just because other people have dreams too would be foolish, so you must continue to share your passion and interest with the world — the hiring world.  I know, this is when the application process gets flat out annoying.  The dreaming stage is over, and now you’re just trying to get an interview, but don’t forget about the goal you’re chasing.  Don’t forget what you came to accomplish in the first place.  The second, third, forth… fiftieth application you send out should ooze the same passion that the first one did.


The job search is a true testament to your character.  How many times are you willing to fail (or in this case, submit an application without getting a callback) before landing the perfect gig?  When we’re in the fog, it’s hard to see what lay ahead, but take it steady, and you’ll find where you’re going.  Let it be a fun learning experience — not a mundane, hopeless cause.  Keep dreaming, keep creating, keep sharing.

As my yoga teacher once told me, “Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”

– What were some feelings and emotions you experienced when you were applying for your dream job?
– What were some lessons the application process taught you? 


(image courtesy of Google Images)

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Don’t Cry for Me, Sedona

A piece I wrote for my friends at (Sense)story Perception about my magical experience on Bell Rock in Sedona, AZ.

(Sense)story Perception


Enormous red rock formations completely surrounded the town.  I had heard this place was magical, and the drive in was reason enough to believe that it was.

The first time I had ever heard about the mystical vortexes of Sedona was eight months prior to my visit.  A co-worker of mine had just come back from taking a week long massage therapy course in Sedona.  She showed me hundreds of pictures on her iPhone while telling me about all the trails she found, the perfect weather, the hidden gems, and the beautiful crystals she picked up.  She also mentioned the vortexes of energy and how people from around the world travel to Sedona just to partake in their own spiritual retreat.  How could I have never heard of this world-renowned place?  I also had never heard of a vortex.  You too, reader?  Well, since I was quite impressed with About.com’s…

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“With nothing, you can create anything.”

Greetings finally from Northern California!

We arrived at my brother’s house this past Wednesday night.  We’ll be staying here for a few weeks until we find a place of our own.  The day after our arrival was my nephew’s seventh birthday.  In the midst all of the birthday festivities, unpacking, getting to know the roads, settling in, and spending quality time with family after being on the road for two and half weeks, I still think about my blogs everyday.  I’m almost at a loss for words because everything I have to do now is so new for me.  My boyfriend and I have to apply for work, buy a home, get new driver’s licenses, change our addresses… make friends!  I want to share words of Enlightenment and personal revelations with all of you, but at this moment, I got nothin’.  This is a time in my life when I have to take the lessons I’ve learned and APPLY them… to real life!  One lesson that I haven’t been utilizing enough is: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  I’ve never had to rent or buy a home before.  I feel inferior to my eldest brother who’s moved five times since he moved out of the house we grew up in.  He’s always been my mentor, and even with him, I feel hesitant to ask for advice on how to start looking for a home to buy.  I feel like a kid in class who’s too afraid to raise her hand because her question might sound stupid.  You never know though until you ask.  I finally talked to him last night.  We chatted in our pj’s over some popcorn.  So cool and easy, what else would I expect?  I asked him about price ranges, how much one should keep in their savings after a down payment, renting vs. buying, etc.  My options started to become a little less hazy.  Lots of things are unknown right now, but hey, that’s the beauty of it.  One thing is for sure, we’re here, and we’re giving it our all.

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Exploring the Southwest

Day 10 on the road.

I’m in Salt Lake City right now.  By next week, we will be in San Francisco, but Salt Lake City is actually the last city we’re staying in before our final destination.  I often feel like I’m backpacking in Europe again, and I guess we kind of are “backpacking” through the US.  When I was in Europe, I carried around a bulky 25 lb. backpack, and as touristy as it made me look, it was actually a great conversation starter with fellow travelers and locals.  This time around, our New Jersey license plates and car packed with all our belongings were what people were noticing. We’ve even had people from New Jersey wave or honk at us or come up to the side of our car just to chat.  Everyday we go on a new adventure, whether it’s climbing to the top of a vortex in Sedona, catching one of our favorite musical acts in Denver, or driving for 10 hours and making sandwiches at rest stops along the way.  As amazing as it’s been, I have been craving some time to myself to write and reflect on all the good that we’ve encountered on our travels through America.  I wish we had been able to explore Middle America and the Midwest a little more, but the Southwest has kept us pretty busy.  We had hoped to catch glimpses of all of the landmarks and national parks along the way, but there is SO much.  I find myself lighting up at the sight of every brown road sign we pass indicating a recreational area.  Places I definitely want to come back to and explore:

– Boulder/Denver, Colorado Round 2
– Mesa Verde, Colorado
– several day hike into the Grand Canyon
– Sedona, Arizona Round 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.
– Zion National Park, Utah

I was actually quite surprised to see so many people from countries, such as Spain, France, Taiwan, Australia, Dominican Republic, and many more, in some of the places that we’ve visited on this road trip.  When I think of what places people from other countries want to visit in continental US, I think of New York City because of all of the movies and TV shows, Miami because of the beach and clubbing, and Washington DC because well, it’s our country’s capital.  I thought the tourism in the rest of America came from… Americans.  Just goes to show how big our small ponds may seem.

And now, a random selection of  pictorial highlights from the past week and a half…

Dhanurasana in four states at the same time! New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado.

On our way from the Four Corners, a search for the nearest gas station took us 40 miles off course.  We stumbled across a breathtaking canyon that stretched for miles along Route 161.

Meditating at the top of Bell Rock in magical Sedona, Arizona.

Met new friends from Taiwan as we climbed Cathedral Rock – Sedona, AZ.

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Make It All Count

Giant cross off of Route 70, Effingham, IL

Day 2 of life on the road…

And, we’re off. Shaun and I left yesterday afternoon in his (our?) car. It’s packed to the roof with all of our stuff; we can’t even use our rear view mirrors. So far, we’ve driven through six states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and now, Illinois — where I’m writing this from my iPhone now. We did a more condensed version of this trip when we helped my brother move cross country last August, so we knew what to expect as far as long haul drives and booking convenient budget friendly hotels hours before check-in. Once we hit the road yesterday, we didn’t really experience the same kind of excitement that we had when we road tripped last August. During that trip, we just kept saying aloud, “This is so awesome!!!” Our sentiments this time around were more of a rock on, this is our life kind of vibe. The stress of packing and saying our good-byes melted away once we hit the road. This has been a move we’ve been planning for almost 9 months after all, and it’s here finally!

First thing this morning, my friend sent me a link to an article entitled, Why You Should Scrap That Ladder Climbing Plan And Go Backpacking Around The World Instead. As I read it, we crossed the state border from West Virginia to Ohio. By the end of it, I was in tears. One part that really spoke to me:

Anything is possible. You can create the life you’ve always wanted to, if you believe it to be true. Your twenties will be the best years of your life. Your thirties will be the best years of your life. Your forties will be the best years of your life. All of your years will be the best years of your life if you decide they will and design your life accordingly.

I love that. It’s not about making our twenties “count,” it’s about making it all count. Here’s the link to the article, as I must share it with all of you.

I had to say bye to my pop three separate times before the final good-bye. He goes to work at 2am, and Shaun and I had planned on departing from New Jersey at 8am. Although my pop is not an expressive guy, I had imagined the farewell to have at least a little emotion. Instead, he was running late for work, frantically trying to find the title to my car. He needs it for when he drives my car cross country next month. I helped him look through our files and in my glove compartment. He was getting into his car when I finally found it and showed it to him. Then, I stood and watched our good-bye happen, bland and short-lived. No tears, no laughs, no advice or final wishes. Then, he drove away. I had to say bye to him twice more after that. The second good-bye happened because we left later than expected, so I caught him coming home from work. The third time because we had to drive back for my gps. Part of me wanted to cry about it, but the rest of me knew it would happen that way. Of course it would. In the past week, after all of the good-byes I’ve said, hugs I’ve given, and memories I’ve gone through and thrown out, it’s almost foolish to be sad over a good-bye. You invest too much emotion and energy; it’s exhausting. No one lives life thinking that everything they do may be the last time they do it: the last time I go to the beach on the east coast, the last time I visit Manhattan, the last time I have this burger, the last time I see this friend, etc. You wouldn’t be living IN the moment. Just take it all in and appreciate the moment. It’s never really good-bye anyway. What I’ve learned: live your life with love and gratitude, and make it all count.

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