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2018 Here and Gone…

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This year has been a roller coaster of delights; ups and downs, and curves galore. I have spent much of this year working on my career goals and getting my writing mojo back. Of course I also spent the year with close friends and family and a slew of traveling. It’s been a great period of growth for me and also a period of reflection.

From a career standpoint I was able to network my way back to the city of my heart – New York City, specifically Brooklyn (and in Brooklyn specifically Bedford Stuyvesant). I am actually proud of myself that I was able to pull it off. I thought I would have to leave my current company to do it and that was almost the case, but things were able to be worked out and I am not back where I truly feel I belong and where I thrive.

I found myself in the streets of New York City, with the help of people who have become my family. We may not be blood related, but they are the family that I have patch-worked together across boroughs, cities, and even countries. Leaving the city wasn’t what I wanted, but I did what was necessary at the time; and now, I’m back to stay.

Writing, ah writing…

Back in February, my muse decided to come out and play and I was very excited. I’m happy to stay that the passion and drive that began this year didn’t fade at all; it’s actually grown in fact. I participated in both Camp NaNoWriMo’s (one in April and one in July), as well as NaNoWriMo in November.

April was a dud in the writing department, namely due to work and the big career move I was trying to make; the muse was not happy. July was better and I was able to win that and get what I needed written, which spawned a lot of planning for November. NaNo was a success in November with me being able to write more than 50k words that month. So exciting! This past month I’ve actually been working on a completely different idea as well as editing some fan-fiction that I have ready to go for some fans in particular.

All in all, it’s been a great year in the writing department – I hope it continues into 2019.

Friends and family rallied around me for a couple things this year; one, I raised money from Leukemia and Lymph Society’s Team in Training and ran the NYC Marathon this year. Huge feat – I was pissed off about my time (didn’t finish anywhere near I wanted), but in the end…I DID IT!!! It was a great accomplishment and something I’ve been wanting to do for years – so go me!

The other item on the agenda was traveling! Every year I travel and I tend to go to multiple places. This year was great because it was an awesome mix of old favorites and new exciting places. And not only were the places I visited a mix of old and new, the people I traveled with were too!

I started my year by traveling to an old favorite; San Francisco, California. I went here with some new friends from work, but one of my oldest friends in the world. It was a great way to start off 2018. Next trip was back to wine country with my sister for the BottleRock music festival. Let me tell you – the festival is expensive, but for the two of us – totally worth it. I love how much I’ve bonded with my younger sister during this time; we’ve learned a lot about each other I feel during this time.

The sisterly time wasn’t done yet; in July, she and I went to Iceland and had an awesome time. August came and went with a new city and new travel buddy! I went to Ireland for the very first time, ran an international half marathon for the first time, and travelled with a new buddy for her first trip to Ireland as well! I’d heard the food was horrible here, but I have to disagree – I ate so well while I was there. The views are fantastic along the coasts, and the city of Dublin is so cute!

As the year has wound to a close, I find myself writing from the beautiful and old city of Lisbon, Portugal. My big brother and I are enjoying our first solo international trip together. This city is breathtaking, the food is delicious, and the weather in December has been phenomenal. We’ve already decided to come back!

So what have I learned this year? There haven’t been any great flashes of insights or big revelations. The knowledge that I have learned this year has always been with me, but I guess this was the year that I finally voiced what I knew to be true for a long time.

Here’s what I figured out:

I can be disappointed in how long it took to do something; but that never negates the accomplishment of actually putting in the work and doing it.

I have an abundance of experiences that I’ve already lived through, and they are preparing me for what is to come.

I have the capacity to be so much more than what I am right now – it will just take time to get there.

I am truly and well loved and cared for.

Simple things right? Like I said, no rocket science in there at all, but still lessons learned and hard won.

With that, I will bid 2018 a hearty goodbye and farewell.

See you in 2019!

Happy New Year!

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New Year, More Writing? Maybe?

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I’m not really sure where 2017 went for me. When I look back it almost seems as if I were an apparition – a reflection in the mirror – that watched the year speed by like the Shinkansen in Japan. Between the blur of true news, fake news, tumultuous White House shenanigans, and yet another mass shooting, I don’t think that there was a dull moment throughout the year.

What boggled my mind really was the fact that when I tried to put pen to paper or fingers to keys, nothing came to mind.

Not one thing.

I had no inspiration for creativity, no inspirational thoughts that were incessant enough to have me scrambling for my keyboard and this blog – this creative space – to let me unleash the relentless screaming in my mind. Everything was curiously silent. I didn’t know what it meant then, I still don’t know what it meant now, but I do respect it. That lull lasted almost the full year, for whatever reason. I guess I just need a break. Why? I have no clue, but it what it is.

Instead what I did was travel. I traveled with friends, with family, and through long car rides to and from work, I traveled alone with just me, my thoughts, and music. In the year 2017, I think I just was. I had fantastic experiences last year, and for the first time in a while I truly felt that I had lived.

No two experiences are ever alike and through each one I felt as if I achieved something; no matter how minute, it was an achievement.

In Peru, I hiked and reached a 4200 meter summit and walked amongst the ruins of Machu Picchu.

In California, I danced and sang the weekend away at BottleRock Music Festival.

In London, I was awed and inspired by the last Adele concert in Wembley stadium (rumor has it!).

In India, I reflected on many things in Rishikesh, and joyfully attended a friend’s wedding in Udaipur.

And on a cruise ship in the Caribbean I wound down my year and ended it with calm thoughts and an excitement for new beginnings.

Did I write last year you ask? I did – finally – during NaNoWriMo I was able to get out a story that had been fermenting for a while. A quick burst of inspiration, and a quick sprint to the finish to get it done, but it was completed. I was satisfied and surprisingly the urge to write that had failed me so many times over 2017 was alive and well by the time the year ended.

So here I am now, sitting in my room, on my bed, writing for the first time in 2018. A month into the new year I’m still excited, and I can’t wait for what’s coming.

And maybe, just maybe more writing will be done this year, but I’ll just have to wait and see where my mind takes me – this time around. 😉

Until Next Time…

 

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Reflections: Mad dash to the finish and beyond…

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“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

― Napoléon Bonaparte

When I think of the last ten to eleven months, I am reminded of training for three to four half marathons in quick succession of each other. Every day is a challenge, whether it is mental, spiritual, or even physical. The last two semesters of getting any degree, not just an MBA, is a sprint to the finish. There are meetings to talk about meetings, group sessions and projects that go awry, pop quizzes, pop tests, and homework that seems to be unending to keep up with your studies.

However, on top of all the school work, there is job searching, figuring out what path you want to travel after this gauntlet, and all of the self doubts and unending questions of what comes after? Or why did I do this? On top of all of this I had received a life altering diagnosis at the start of my summer semester that severely impacted my health the rest of the year. There were days that I was so tired I didn’t want to move, let alone go be productive at school, but I did it anyway. I had quit my job for this degree, threw away my cushy future and went after what I wanted – there was no way I was going to let anything get me down.

I don’t think I have ever been as unsettled before when I thought of my future, as I was finishing my degree requirements mid December, without a job offer in hand. I really felt like I had failed. Or if not failed, performed severely under par. I was by no means the only one feeling this way, but it’s really crushing when the feelings just cascade one on top of the other. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t know exactly what my next steps were going to be or what I was going to do.

I was terrified.

After the initial burst of fear that last a couple of days after finishing classes and finals, I woke up one day after one of the deepest sleeps I’d had in months, completely at peace. I didn’t have anywhere to be, nothing to compete with my time; I could do whatever I wanted. Around the same time, my doctor let me know that my health was on the mend.

I had finished the gauntlet, the degree was mine, and the experiences I had had were amazing, terrifying, and could never be replaced or replicated. My health was back on track; I could get back to where I had left off months before-if I wanted to.

Or I could carve out something completely new and actually be able to spend the quality time to get it right for me this time around. Without a job to quickly jump into, I actually had the time to focus on me. And that’s just what I did and what I’m continuing to do. I’m still looking for a job, but I’ve been working also on mentally recharging my batteries, spending time with friends and family, travelling the world, and truly giving myself a break.

The MBA taught me what I needed to know in business, working in teams, and how to become even more successful in the next phase of my career. However, I also learned that sometimes, it’s okay to slow down as well and take time to really live life and not have a plan moving forward.

So am I still internally freaking out every now and again? Sure. Am I letting it rule me? Absolutely not.

Whatever is supposed to happen will eventually happen and not a minute sooner.

Next Up: Travelling Iceland

*Feature Image Credit to M. Walcher

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Weekend Travel: Xitang & Hangzhou Part II

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(Please read ‘Xitang & Hangzhou Part I’ first – this is a continuation)

On Saturday morning, we left Xitang for Hangzhou and the famous West Lake to continue our little weekend adventure. As with Xitang, Hangzhou also has rich history. A famous poem was written about West Lake by Song Dynasty Poet Su Dongpo and it reads:

“Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded the rain;
Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;
West Lake is always alluring.”

I did some digging (namely typed west lake into Google and read what popped up) and Xizi was considered to be the most beautiful woman in ancient China. I can honestly say I can see why he thought so because West Lake was a beautiful place. There was so much to do and see and we literally spent all day in the vicinity of the lake. (More about West Lake: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/zhejiang/hangzhou/west_lake.htm)

A few of my cohorts and I went up to Baoshu Pagoda (pictured below), while another group went to another museum around the lake. We all finally met back up at Leifeng Pagoda, which is one the opposite side of the lake from Baoshu. Let me tell you – the lake is large, very large. My small group and I couldn’t find a taxi so we walked from one pagoda to the other, it was a mean feat, but worth it. We were able to see a lot more of the sites around the lake while walking, and though we were very tired when we arrived at Leifeng the pagoda is not one to miss.

We also were able to see and walk across what is called the Broken Bridge. There is a legend called ‘The Legend of the White Snake’ and this legend supposedly took place around on the Broken Bridge. Considering it happened thousands of years ago, I can’t tell you if it really happened or not, but it is a famous legend in the area and a very neat one. You can find more about it here: http://cn.hujiang.com/new/p422912/.

We finally wrapped up the day with a quick trip to a shopping market where I was able to buy some delicious green tea to take home with me. After jumping on a bullet train back to Shanghai, I literally passed out around 11pm and didn’t wake up until it was time to go to Bikram Yoga at a yoga studio I found in the city.

It was a great weekend of traveling to start of the many more I’m sure will follow. Next post will summarize what Golden Week here in Shanghai!

Until next time!

Call the Long Bridge - one of the many cool things my group and I came across walking to Leifeng.

Call the Long Bridge – one of the many cool things my group and I came across walking to Leifeng.

Far off view of Leifeng Pagoda.

Far off view of Leifeng Pagoda.

At the base of Leifeng Pagoda. It's HUGE! Very beautiful building.

At the base of Leifeng Pagoda. It’s HUGE! Very beautiful building.

Large lucky Buddha I came across in the shopping area in Hangzhou.

Large lucky Buddha I came across in the shopping area in Hangzhou.

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Weekend Travel: Xitang & Hangzhou Part I

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“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Last weekend, Friday and Saturday specifically, I had the pleasure of going on a two-day, two-city adventure with a couple of my cohorts, visiting Xitang and Hangzhou.

Xitang and Hangzhou are not far from Shanghai, maybe 1.5 hrs via bus or train, but completely different in terms of modernity and history, not only from Shanghai, but from each other.

The first stop on our whirlwind tour was Xitang, which is located in the Zhejiang Province in China. Xitang is well known for being an ancient water city. The town dates back to Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC) and Warring States Period (476 BC – 221 BC). We were told a lot of the architecture dates back to the Ming and  Qing Dynasty respectively and that it’s also famous for is covered corridors, lanes, and bridges. (You can find out more here: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/zhejiang/hangzhou/xitang.htm)

The town itself was beautiful to me. You could clearly see the history and most of the time we spent, was going up and down lanes of stalls in a waterfront shopping area by the river. It was a quick fun trip, I may end up going back to do a bit more walking around the town to take in more of the history.

Homes and shop establishments along the river embankment, with famous covered lanes and corridors.

Homes and shop establishments along the river embankment, with famous covered lanes and corridors.

Quick picture of cohorts along shopping corridor in Xitang. (from left:  (Vicky, Ted, Ali, Shaw, and Lanre)

Quick picture of cohorts along shopping corridor in Xitang. (from left: (Vicky, Ted, Ali, Shaw, and Lanre)

River Boats along embankment of Xitang shopping area.

River Boats along embankment of Xitang shopping area.

Xitang at night, with lanterns lit.

Xitang at night, with lanterns lit.

Xitang at night, with lanterns lit. (Pic 2)

Xitang at night, with lanterns lit. (Pic 2)

Hangzhou post to follow right after this!

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Stretching Your Mind: Learning and Growing

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I like the encouragement I get from doing new things. I like to feel scared or challenged in the hope that I can pull it off. That little bit of fear creates an energy that I can channel into the performance. ~ Joanne Whalley

It’s been an amazing first week and a half of class in Shanghai. Our first official class in the Global MBA was entitled “Managing Teams and Leadership 1.” This class was taught by Dr. Tony Lingham, a Case Professor from the Organizational Behavior Department. The class was held for one week – all day – and I have to say, it was probably one of the most eye-opening classes that I’ve taken, possibly ever.

The class focus was to learn how to assess how we – as individuals – learn on our own, how we adapt our learning styles when in small groups, and then finally how we learn as a team when thrown into one. Let me tell you now; this is not for the faint of heart. We had fifty-one students at the time: fourteen US, twenty Chinese, and seventeen Indian Cohorts and Tony split us all into groups depending on our learning styles and proceeded to tell us to develop a Global Leadership Theory that was going to be presented on Friday (last Friday).

Let’s just say, I didn’t think it would be possible. Groups were created on Tuesday, so that meant we had less than four days to get acquainted as a group, get comfortable in our group, come up with this theory, and build a presentation around it.

Four days people, four days.

Wonder of wonders – it really happened. After some initial bumps and bruises, our group really came alive and we quickly became very good friends and work partners. Instead of reluctantly working in a group of individuals, we really became one team with one like-minded goal.

It was a brutal process; assimilating all of the information that we were being taught in class and then continuing that learning in our groups, building the presentation at night, but I learned so much about myself and of how I perceive the world and how I want to be perceived. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • I want to be a subject matter expert in my field, but I don’t want to do it alone – I want to work in an amazing team while growing and learning.
  • I love feeling my mind literally stretch to incorporate new information, new ideas, and new ways of thinking about things.
  • If I want people to change how they perceive me, I have to do something about it – not them. The problem starts with the individual not the others – only you can change you.
  • I can change, if I really want it bad enough, I can – and will – change.

So how did the presentation go? Great! It was a long Friday morning and afternoon, but all of the teams did an amazing job; I still can’t believe we had only ~3.5 days to do it in, but who cares! The results were awesome.

Over the course of the weekend some of my new friends and I went around the town in Shanghai. There was Karaoke night on Friday night, a lounging day on Saturday for me, found a yoga studio and some shopping on Sunday with some new girlfriends, and ended Sunday night at Bonnie’s house, where she cooked us a phenomenal traditional Chinese meal. I’m going to be one sad sad person coming back to the US when this is over – the food is fantastic over here!

Monday kicked off the beginning of the rest of our classes that we will be having this semester. As of now we’re taking Global Environment, Language of Management (Finance) on Tuesdays, Statistics is this Thursday, and then we have a self-study period this coming Friday.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

It’s all good though – there is still plenty of time to learn some Mandarin and see the sights. I may forgo a little sleep, but it will be worth it in the end.

Until next time! Zai Jian! (See you later!)

Candid Shot of Tony teaching Class

Candid Shot of Tony teaching Class

Array of dishes Bonnie made - super delicious!

Array of dishes Bonnie made – super delicious!

Rachel (my roomie!) and I at Karaoke!

Rachel (my roomie!) and I at Karaoke!

 

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