I grew up a runner so I made sure to wear my best running shoes in this picture. A neighbor even nicknamed me, “road-runner” since I had a habit of going out for a run as early as age six. I’d be running away from home, running away from my fears, and today I still find myself running from anything that doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Now that I have found a place in my life for my physical practice of yoga and I am a certified yoga instructor, I have created a nice balance to the workouts I have always loved. This pose, and this picture show not only the things that I love but also the beauty of who I am.
Friday at Hu Kitchen
When I give myself the time to mentally assess the fact that I am no longer a resident of New York City (after almost three years of living the dream) it makes me a little sad. I run through the usual thoughts in my head:
-“I haven’t even accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish!”
-“There are so many things I’ve never even got to check of my bucket list!”
-“I didn’t even get nearly enough time with my friends and family that I moved here to be closer too!”
-“Damnit, does this mean I have to change my domain name to my blog dreamsmadenyc.com?”
These same common thoughts crossed my head this morning after waking up with regret of how late in the morning it was when I was finally getting out of bed from my girlfriends lower east side apartment. I crashed at her place after wine night since I moved out of my Upper East Side apartment at the end of September. For the rest of October and November I will be commuting into my old neighborhood where I still run a store but unfortunately I no longer have my own place in the city. Friends have let me stay at their apartments to make it easy on me the nights I work late, or days where there are only eight hours between my shifts. The decision to commute into the city from my fiancé’s hometown in New Jersey for my last two months working in the city was made to save money as we prepare to alter our way of living. I will be in Costa Rica for most of the month of December for my 200-hour, yoga teacher training and then we will be moving to California to start our life together. A year round warm weather community is where we need to live so that my best friend, my fiancé, will be able to pursue his career as a professional golfer year round. At the beginning of 2016, we will spend our one-year anniversary driving our belongings’ and dog cross-country to the west side. So, as annoying as the commute and transit has been, I know it will all be worth it when I remember the goals we are crushing and accomplishing by this current plan.
Strolling down St. Marks Place with a latte in hand that I picked up from a coffee shop lined with several professional hipsters typing on their mac pros, I over heard a father-son tourist duo walking ahead of me. Map in hand, and in a very as a matter of fact tone, I hear the father recap the outline of plans he had for them as see the city that day. “We will start at this breakfast place in Union Square, then we will head to, short pause as he looks down at his map, Midtown! Then, we will hit up Time Square, Rockefeller, and after that we will go to the record store on Bleeker. I mean we don’t have to be at the show until 8 tonight!” Hearing this made me smile while it brought me to memories of similar visits before I was a resident with my mother and sister. Like them, we also had jammed packed days, and plans to see it all in 24 hours. Continuing on behind them, I also headed to one of my favorite NYC eateries in Union Square. I was inspired to make my own plan for the day so that I could at least cross off a few things that I felt like I needed to get done on my writing goals. I choose to sit in a favorite corner of mine at Hu Kitchen, which is a high quality restaurant and market that holds a vision to provide a destination where you can eat and live deliciously. I first heard of Hu Kitchen about two years ago when I was invited to meet, Arielle Haspel of Be Well with Arielle, to discuss new ideas of a career path in a time where I felt very stuck. I did similar soul-searching after she took the time to meet with me regarding my passions and idea’s I had about fashion, yoga, and writing. For an hour, I spoke about my hobbies and my life experience and it helped me realign my direction of my original plans for myself when I first moved to New York City.
I wrote down what goals I had so I could review what I had accomplished in the past three years in New York. I felt the need to realign them and see where I stood for my last month with easy access to the city I love. I wanted to find love (check), I wanted to write more (check), I wanted to be challenged (double-check), and I wanted to become a yogi (check). As my time in my “dream city” runs out I was convinced I also had to change my domain name to the blog that will continue to house my life stories and plans. I thought to myself, “I can’t live in California and host a blog with New York City in it, can I?” As I was handed my fresh steamed bowl of quinoa topped with vegetarian chili and fresh basil, I was asked if I was vegan. Since being vegan is my next “Me goal” for this last month before I go into extensive training, I smiled up at him and said, “I’m trying to be.” I knew I had my answer to what my new domain name should be after convincing myself I needed to change. I was Born in PA, raised by my great- grandmother in Southern Florida, moved to New York City to find my dreams, and followed the love of my life to California. It makes no sense to change the name when this blog has gotten me through all of that. As I was gathering my things getting ready to leave Hu Kitchen, I looked up and ironically spotted Arielle chatting with a women at the juice bar taking notes as she had at ours, and ensured I stopped over and filled her in on my newest “Hu inspired” plans. Therefore, you can all continue to follow me here: Dreamsmadenewyorkcity.com
“Dizzy From all this spinning”
–Dave Matthews Band
I met yoga for the first time when I bought a restorative and breathing yoga DVD at Best Buy during Christmas break in my last year of college. I was stranded in Tallahassee during another semester/holiday break where the entirety of my classmates and friends headed to their hometowns. It always left the city feeling empty and ghostlike. I could not leave town because of bills I was responsible for and the obligations I had at all three of my jobs. One night while arriving home from work to an empty four-bedroom, roommate-less house, I started the usual “poor me” thoughts about not being able to run home to a family safety net. When I stepped into my room and set my belongings on my bed, I looked down at my flea-market zebra-print rug and something encouraged me to sit down in the middle and start to meditate. I don’t recall knowing anything about meditating or figuring out why I felt the need to sit cross-legged on my floor with my eyes closed and palms up. I think I was mimicking practices I had picked up as a child when I would hide in my closet and close my eyes for comfort. Or maybe I was seeking the calming effect I had learned about in my Buddhist religion class. I sat on the floor in my room for the rest of the evening, and the next morning I woke up with the idea of learning yoga. My campus gym was closed for school break, and I am not positive that a private yoga studio was even in my town at the time, so I headed to the closest store that sold DVD’s to get my first introduction to yoga through DVD.
Over the next couple of day’s I followed my “live” instructors’ direction in my living room and quickly decided that I was easily bored, frustrated and way to distracted to commit to any type of yoga practice at this point in my life. When everyone started trickling back into town, I put my DVD away on my bookshelf and did not pull it out again until a year later when I had graduated and was out of college. I was living in Delray Beach when a friend I had met at my serving job – Torreya Grill, one of the spots where I’d worked during school breaks – gave me my first yoga mat as a birthday gift. Similar to my history of meditation, I don’t recall ever talking about yoga or giving Jessica a reason to believe that I needed a yoga mat, but it is a gift that will forever be symbolic of my love of yoga. On receiving my new Gaiam mat, we quickly made plans to get together to practice yoga, and after dusting off my old yoga DVD we had a couple “home sessions” with our new mats. But again, I was quickly side-tracked from learning yoga and used my mat instead for other home fitness activities.
Throughout the next four years of all my different fitness endeavors, I picked up yoga maybe a handful of times. I lived with a yogi who was constantly on yoga challenges, and she had dragged me to hot yoga classes. She was always giving me reasons why I, too, should be practicing yoga. It definitely intrigued me, but I was bored during yoga and I was also very intimidated by it. At age 28, I cannot touch my toes, and unlike many of the people who were practicing yoga, I can’t even come close to a split. The back bends I watched my girlfriends perform while hanging out at the beach were positions I thought might literally bend/break mine. It just wasn’t for me yet, and so I continued to be active on my yoga mat but for Pilates and those occasional viewings of my yoga DVD.
Dave Matthews Band sings in “So Damn Lucky” about being dizzy from a whole lot of spinning, and I can say that in the last year of my life I have become extremely dizzy from it all. I also consider myself pretty damn lucky to be blessed with all of the different life experiences and have finally found a place for yoga in my life. I moved to New York City, broke up with my boyfriend staffed and trained a newly renovated retail store team in a city where I’d never lived, moved my belongings through Times Square twice, and unexpectedly lost my job. A lot of these life events that caused anxiety, worry, and stress were the result of my dreams finally coming true, but that doesn’t mean that these events weren’t difficult. This year was remarkably memorable and has been a defining year of my life. Although, I moved to Manhattan with a job, I did not move to the Big Apple with a big savings account or a clear financial plan. I kid you not: The 12-foot box truck that drove all my furniture and belongings from South Florida to Manhattan, the gas for my car to follow, the renter fees, apartment fees, lease-breaking fees, food and any miscellaneous moving supplies were all paid out of a $1,500 budget I had at my disposal. I’d be lying if I said my Nan didn’t stick a few bills in my pocket, and that my wonderful friends and family did not help me over this hump. I was showered with gifts, gift cards, and so many blessings and words of encouragement, but it still remains one of the most anxious, scary time in my life. I questioned myself daily on my decision to move when I was experiencing such financial burden and so many weeks I had to stretch thirty dollars to feed me and transport me through one of the most expensive cities in the world. I truly believe it was only possible for me to do because of the experience and learnings of my meager youth. Tuna fish, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, and mac & cheese, were my go-to budget food items, and with any leftover money I would buy myself a bottle of wine to keep me company as I wrote in my journal thoughts and goals to get out of this mess.
My first apartment at the Ritz was located in midtown and was SO BEAUTIFUL! From my bedroom you could walk out onto a balcony twenty-nine floors high that overlooked Times Square to the left and Hell’s Kitchen to the right. The one side of my room was pure window, and I had beautiful wood floors where I propped my Gaiam yoga mat in the corner next to a standing mirror. This yoga mat placement, although I was still not a yoga practitioner, was placed with intent for the sanctuary I was trying to create in this stressful, anxious time. I will never, EVER forget the beauty of the city lights from my room and how I could sit out on the balcony and, if only for a second, remember to be proud of myself. I started to have visions of doing yoga gracefully on my Gaiam mat outside my large glass windows, and these visions started to become reality when I took out my mat one afternoon and turned on my yoga DVD. What was different this time around is that, after the first week, I didn’t stop. In my free time, I started Googling and searching Youtube for different yoga tutorials that I hoped to practice on my own.
After the first three months, I started to get a little more financial security as well as more knowledge of ways to spread my money more evenly and even save money. The first thing I did when I had a couple extra dollars a month was research and purchase a gym membership that fit my budget. With all of my fitness classes, I always wanted parts to be like ballet or hip-hop, and then I started to mix in yoga classes. No matter how hard it was to convince myself to go to class and be the “beginner” that I was embarrassed to be, I cannot recall one time that I did not feel an amazing sense of anxiety relief. I am always very thankful that I made it to my classes, and I always remind myself how thankful I am each and every time I practice because it has NOT been easy to get to this point of my yoga career. The goal I set in August 2013 was to at least make it to one yoga class each week, and that goal has evolved into a habit of searching for a yoga class to attend almost every single day. With the loss of my job, I have incorporated the goal to make yoga class every day. With the extra time on my hands I have given myself my first and well-deserved yoga challenge. I have finally achieved control of my finances, and in the blink of an eye the universe switched the ocean tide and forced me to seek a new way to swim out. I need and connect to yoga more these past couple of days than ever before, and I am so committed to my relationship with yoga. Every day in class, I learn something new about my body and about the different ways I can get myself into different positions. It frees my mind in such healthy ways, and keeps me from all the drugs or booze I might have looked at to ease my mind in the past. It releases the hurt, the uncertainties, and gives me so much hope like nothing else in my life has been able to. Anytime anyone is going through anything difficult in life, I often think to myself, “they need yoga”, and it’s also a hobby of mine that I am hoping to bring into other people’s lives by becoming a certified yoga instructor.
Currently, I still can’t touch my toes for long, or do a split, but I did do my first sirsasana (headstand) in class the other night! I know that if I continue to stay true to my goals I will one day make it into the positions that I only aspire to now. I love watching and learning from other yogis in class as they get into their crow poses, and I stay patient with myself as I work up the strength to one day get there, too. That is why yoga is so awesome! Everyone is at their own pace with their bodies and it might all be different for everyone as far as how they feel after. I have cried, I have become overwhelmed with energy, I have become ready for a nap, and it really just depends on what kind of practice you put in and out of your mind and body. Inhale good shit, exhale Bullshit. I love the improved flexibility and balance I have noticed I have gained since I use to consider myself very clumsy. I love yoga clothing and how free and comfortable it fits, and I feel like the techniques I am learning in yoga has helped with my love for dancing, and running, too. I also love the natural, loose bun it gives my heavy, thick hair after a 55-minute Vinyassa flow class!
I hope that you can find yoga in your life, and when your life leaves you a little dizzy, you find peace in your practice. Message me if you have any questions regarding beginner’s yoga!