The Greatest

To be here and to be alive, it simply is, the greatest. IMG_2145

It took me just 2 hours outside of the city to realize how much I needed it, the whiff of nature, the breath of fresh air.

So there I was, after 10 miles around the Appalachian trail, lying on plain ground, staring up at the blue sky – grateful.

There are moments when we all experience a sudden streak of appreciation, perspective.  These moments, although rare and stealthy, are sometimes all you need to feel alive. To be here, and present.

These moments, you will notice, often occur when you are in your purest mindset – most often it is when you are truly vulnerable, or amidst nature (which is also when you are truly vulnerable). 

If you live in a city, you’ll realize how quickly you forget what it is to be in the presence of natural abundance, of the natural life, wild and free. The rules here are different, in the sense there aren’t any –  Live and let live.

That’s exactly how I felt, free. I’d forgotten how much I love to explore, just walk where my heart wanders, where my curiosity leads. I’d forgotten the immense joy I felt in such adventures. It took me back to the times when as a child I would wander off exploring the paths down to the river in my neighborhood, pretending to be on a mission as a part of the Secret Seven club. The same feeling, the same adventures, a different me.

Why had I, rather when had I forgotten that some of my greatest memories were born, right here, in the arms of nature, that some of these greatest adventures are the essence of me, my life?

Think about it, when was the last time you really took a moment to appreciate the natural beauty around you? When was it that you last took a break from this modern life and wander off into an unplanned adventure? When did you fully disconnect from everything else and simply just be present in the moment that is now?

So easy, and somehow so difficult.

But then again, it is in from the greatest of difficulty, that are born, the greatest of all times – memories, people, and lives.

So embrace your life in all it’s purity and natural abundance. Don’t settle for being good, be great, the greatest.

Like I said, (and it is how much we don’t realize), that to be here and alive, it simply is, the greatest.

 

 

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We The People

IMG_2089It’s the small, smallest acts of kindness that are so powerful; powerful messages. 

A busy restaurant, many reservations, many more waiting. A patient host, warm and comforting, tending to his customers as though they were guests in his home.

I’m describing probably a typical scene at the local Cambridge restaurant, Cafe Luna, with the only difference being that this time it was me witnessing it. 

As you know I live in New York. The people here, besides what most say I won’t call them rude, aren’t exactly the warmest of people – no one has time for anything unnecessary (unnecessary according to them of course). As one goes up north, the people are warmer, kinder. But this little place exceeded all my expectations. Everyone on the staff team was so polite, so friendly, so courteous. Yet the host, he just melted my heart with his warm personality. He made the environment of that place homely, so you could enjoy meals with your loved ones. He didn’t have to do it you know, converse with all his customers, check in with staff,  not in such a kind manner anyway. But you could tell he loved doing it. That’s exactly what he told me when I went up to him, to take a picture of him in an attempt to capture his kindness.

It set me thinking on a trail of thoughts that I carried with me through the day – it really doesn’t cost anything to be nice, to be kind even; every one of us, we are the same, we think the same, feel the same at the very core. We are after all just people trying to live this thing called life, no one knows how to, no one has survived it, yet we remember those ardently, who left a kind impression on this world, or just on us; why; isn’t this something to pay attention to, learn from; after all isn’t this all we have; we, the people.

Later in the day, we visited some old family friends for dinner. They had 2 kids, age 6 and 10. In the first few minutes of interaction I knew I was in a parallel universe. Their acuity, mannerism, comfort rather ease with technology, it was all far far ahead than even what I, a millennial, had had when I was younger.

There were talks about school and their classes, and how they used iPads for everything, with apps for math and design, of projects that involved making keynotes and iMovies, of social media (and how no one cared about Facebook, it was all about Instagram and Snapchat) – insert mental note for marketing: pay attention to this demographic, pool of untapped opportunities.

As we all moved to the dinner table from the family room, one of the kids promptly commanded Alexa to turn off the family room lights. Now if that isn’t a clear indication that I was in a parallel universe then I don’t know what is? 

I found out shortly.

The little one was very animatedly telling us about a soccer anecdote from earlier in the day. He made a reference to something his coach had said, to which his dad asked him which of his three coaches was the one who said it. He went on to describe a series of things, like his clothes, what he was holding at the game etc etc and finally his dad recalled the one. 

Later on his mom pointed out that all the three coaches were of different ethnicities, one Caucasian, one Indian, and one African American. 

I thought of what any one of us at that table would have described him as, well of-course by just that – ethnicity. 

But kids, they don’t really care about these things do they? And why should you? 

We are born with a mind so pure, so united, so compassionate. It is we, the people, who pollute it with differences – of race and countries, of opinions and beliefs, of customs and traditions, of status and color, and I can go on. 

But like I said, at the very core, we are all the same, just people.

We are all just looking to lead a life of happiness and togetherness, to make a difference to something or someone, to share our joys and our sorrows, to feel a sense of belonging, of validation. 

If you think about it, every act of unkindness has it’s roots in insecurity, and the fastest cure for insecurity, is an act of love, of kindness.

And for whom, from whom?

From us; we the people.

Are You There?

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 10.08.31 PMAre you there, living and breathing,
right in this moment,
are you there,
here,
present…

I’m not a big believer in horoscopes, and not too knowledgeable about astrology. In fact, my only connection with it is part of my morning routine, when I skim through the Capricorn section of Daily horoscope. I started reading it about 5 years ago, when a friend introduced it to me by saying, “It changed the way I look at my life!” In that moment I’m sure I must’ve thought how dramatic can she be, but then I downloaded it anyway. The thing is, something about the way it was articulated really resonated with me. It wasn’t so much out of interest of life’s predictions that I kept reading it daily, but more so for the nuggets of thoughts, direction that it prompted me with. One such day was today.

You are goal-oriented and ambitious, but right now a certain ambition may be getting in the way of an important relationship.

I dismissed the thought almost immediately. I didn’t think any relationships in my life were suffering, especially not due to my ambition.
Later on my way to work, I was thinking of how I had decided  to get home slightly earlier this week. I’ve been wanting to spend some quality time by myself in the evenings, just unwinding, catching up on reading, or simply doing something, just for myself.

I’ve done anything but that.

It suddenly struck me – that important relationship – it was with me.

I’ve been so focussed on working hard, giving it my all, my everything, I’ve almost forgotten to do anything else.

Is this how I want to spend my life, fighting for moments (over some part of the weekend) for myself?

I have plans you know, so many things I want to do, explore. We all do.
We all also think that we have time. Well yes, we do, but it is now.
And if we don’t use it wisely, well it’s not coming back.

Life is meant to be lived, not completed.

I’ve been on edge for the past few weeks, it’s been testing times, but I realize, I’ve also not taken time to simply just take a moment to breathe, soak it all in, these blessings that I’m bestowed with.

It’s the simple things that count, the moments of inner peace, joy.

Sitting on the hammock in my little balcony, with my plants and my book, some music, and my thoughts – bliss.

We all need it.
To each our own, but equally real,
a feeling of peace, calm, surreal.

This picture I’ve posted, I plead you to read the full story, it forced me to rethink my purpose in life.  I take so many things for granted, my health, especially my mental health, my food, my time, my family too sometimes. I’m hustling, I’m doing, and don’t get me wrong, I love it, but for what? What is the point of all of this, this energy, this passion, this drive, if I can’t put it to better use, or should I say better use for a larger cause.

The fleeting thoughts I have, it’s time to act on them.

Take up that hobby, learn that new thing, initiate that idea, build that community, write for that blog, reach out to that someone, devote some time to a cause, make that trip, go travel, do something, do nothing, do everything!
(And these are just some of the things I want to do)

I’ve been practicing vulnerability in my way of life, you must’ve picked it up from my last few posts, and you’ll see a lot more of it in the ones to come. This right here is where I lose myself and find my self all in the same time.

So where am I then? Right here. Somewhere in-between thoughts, in-between realizing my dreams.

Life’s too short, but it’s also the longest thing you live, so don’t forget to, you know, actually live it.

Be there, here, now.

It’s All About Love

As a single girl in New York City, I’m often asked about my dating life. Especially in this swipe economy, not being on a dating app is looked at with nothing but plain horror. “How will you meet someone?”, is the most common question I get asked. To this I usually respond, “I would like to actually meet them.”

And so I did! Just last night, in Washington Square park.

I’ve never experienced so much love all at once, so overwhelming, so different, so pure, so much.

Who is it?

Wouldn’t you like to know!

One person, one word – GaryVee! IMG_1915

Bet you didn’t see that one coming. (Well maybe the picture gave it away!)

Although a writer, I’m always at such a loss of words when I talk about GaryVee, and the role he plays in my life. Truth remains – he is my North Star.

But you already knew that. So let’s first talk about this thing called love.

We live in a world where there are so many shades of it. Never before have we been more open and accepting of love in all shapes and forms. The internet has given us the power to express our feelings, our adulation. Above all, it has allowed us to really belong to this love, through a community, a mutual shared feeling.

If you have ever witnessed or been in the presence of a GaryVee meet up, you would know the power of this love. Hundreds of strangers from all over the world, bound by their common adulation, their belief in a unified vision, GaryVee’s vision.

There was so much positivity in the air last night. Even people who did not know him, couldn’t help but join in the excitement of VaynerNation. I heard so many stories of people, their dreams, their hustle, how their lives had changed, how they had changed their lives. The common thread through it all – gratitude. Gratitude for the man who is hustle personified. But that’s not why I believe in him, that’s not why he changed my life. It was his unabashed real-ness that resonated within me. It’s what defines him, builds his legacy.

My Vayner journey has transformed not only my life, but my self as well. It’s made me self aware, it’s made me brave, it’s made me more grateful. If there one thing that surprises me even today, is just how genuine this one man is. He stood there for three hours, talking to every Vayniac, answering their questions, taking pictures, giving hugs. Isn’t this what true live is? Spreading joy, spreading love, spreading positivity.

And isn’t this then, the kind of love that the world needs more of? The one that makes positivity louder!

As I stood there thinking about how much this meant to me, and to all hundreds of others who came all the way out here, late at night, only for the love of it all, I couldn’t help but wonder – If only we had more people like this. And then I realized, that we do! All of us out there, we were one, one large community.

And this is the reason why I say, it’s all about love, love of all shapes and forms, love that will bind us, embrace us, and above all elevate us, into a greater cause, a greater good. All we need, is to find that connection.

As I was bidding goodbye to Gary and DRock, DRock pulled me aside and said – Don’t think so much, just do, just create. More, more, more!

It was almost like he knew what I was thinking – about a new initiative, a new passion, a new self-expression. No more pondering over perfection and opinions. If I could be even slightly as selfless, as confident, as genuine as Gary is, I’d consider my life successful. And for that, I’m willing to put in the work.

Because the time is now, and the place is here. Do what you love, love it with all your heart and might. That’s what drives happiness and this world needs more of it.

As for me, I’m going to follow DRock’s advice and do more –  more expression, more stories, more effort to build connection, make positivity louder, spread love, with love.

Because that’s all we need, that’s all that is enough. Because it really is, all about love.

What Have You Seen?

IMG_1902Tell me love, what have you seen today? 

This question depicted in a mural by Shiv Suleman at Clarion Alley in San Fransisco, it popped back into my head as I walked around Greenpoint in Brooklyn today.

The plan was to attend The Other Art Fair, presented by Saatchi Art.  I had been looking forward to it ever since I came across a flyer informing me about this initiative, a few weeks ago.

This weekend was the perfect opportunity to explore the Greenpoint neighborhood, I’d been wanting to do so since quite some time. When a colleague asked me on Friday what I would be doing this weekend, I told her about my plans to attend Book Con 2017 on Saturday and this art fair on Sunday. To this she responded, “What a cultural weekend!”

I’ve been meaning to use my time over the weekend more constructively, in a way that will allow me to explore myself, express myself. I’m committed to fulfilling the promise I’ve made to myself.

So here I was walking to the art fair in Greenpoint, when I came across a sign which said “Open Studios Today”. This sign and the exposed brick building with an entry into an industrial looking passage was sufficient to draw me straight in. I had no idea that what I would find inside there would have such a compelling effect on me.

Inside the building, on many levels, were studios, incubators, workspaces sponsored by Green Desks – an environment so perfect for creative, disruptive, productive work. I walked across many such open studios, of photographers, and designers, and engineers, all of which were inspiring on a whole new level. All I could think was, here are these people, these creators, a different specie of mankind, hustling on this Sunday to showcase their work, their art, their talent, this is where I want to be. As I engaged in conversations with many of them, I learnt of their stories, their effort, their intent, their process, their purpose.

A videographer who shot aerial views of cities and projected them on different materials – a combination of technology and art.
An artist designing LED artwork of reflections and projections from objects and words that forced you to interpret a larger meaning.
A sound engineer producing photos of sounds through different dissections and connections between image and audio.

Later at the art fair, I stood there amidst all this brilliant art work by more than a hundred artists, inspiring more than a thousand minds with millions of thoughts. One such thought arose in my mind – the purpose of art is to evoke thinking, and art need not be associated only with an object, but more importantly with the creator of it, because that’s what we all are – creators.

Just yesterday at a Book Con panel, I met Erin Chack, an editor at Buzzfeed. I didn’t know anything about her prior to that, but something about her personality intrigued me to learn more. At first, I only wanted to go up to her and tell her how much I enjoyed her speak, and maybe get some advice, one writer to another. She was lovely to chat with, and we even connected on Twitter. It was then that I realized that she had just published a book  – This Is Really Happening – a collection of personal essays. If you read the description, I guarantee you that you will want to read the entire book. That’s exactly what I did. A quick kindle purchase, and one essay later, I found myself overwhelmed by emotion, a little happy, a little sad, and most definitely riveted by the candor in her writing. What she did, was create, and it is her creation, her art of words, that I will carry on as I commit myself to creating more.

In this present moment, as I sit to write this post, to document all these thoughts running through my head, of all these experiences in the last couple of days, I realize, I am creating – a story, an experience, a connection. Like I said earlier, we are all creators and therefore, we all have only one responsibility – to create.

So I urge you – dive deep into your soul and produce what is of value to you, because something tells me that it is definitely of value to someone else too. What you create in your life, of your life, can be an inspiration to many others. And that is the real meaning of it all, this art, this creation – to induce thinking, to evoke a purpose, to build a connection.

All you need to do is open your eyes and your mind. Look around you, the answers to the art of life are most often in such accidental stories that you come across as you wander through your own life.

Now tell me love, what have you seen today?

No? But Yes.

This long weekend has been a classic case of my overthinking brain, doing it’s usual overtime activity. Except, something was different. That difference was my choice. IMG_1828

As someone who wants to do every single thing possible all the time, but also wants to do everything perfectly, I’ve often lingered in the ideation phase for a little too longer than for my own good. That paired with my overthinking nature, well let’s just say it’s a struggle. Now being an idealist is part of my nature, and I’m not sure I want to change that, but what I can change is the level of attachment I have to every single thing I want to undertake.

This weekend was about exploring myself, about pursuing some ideas that had been brewing in my thoughts, and about allowing myself to take the time and space to go off that grid, outside the lines and pattern of my mind, just a little deeper.

For every new thing I tried in this time, it was always preceded by a moment of reluctance, of doubt, of a question – do you really need to? No?

But yes. That’s where I decided to change the outcome.

Do you need to talk to the random stranger and ask her for a picture? No? What will she think? But yes.
Because I’ve made a promise to myself to learn a new skill, produce more pictures, videos.

Do you need to go cycling around Brooklyn early in the morning? No? I do have a cold, and I am not really sure of the roads and the traffic rules. But yes.
Because I had decided to this weeks ago, and I do really want to do it.

Do you really need to make this video right now? No? There are so many people around, what will they think? But yes.
Because this is your journey that you’ve decided to document, and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

Do you really need to go out tonight? No? I have just been out the whole day, and now just want to lay in bed. But yes.
Because I had chosen to make new friends, and they are really interesting people.

Do I really have to think about my future and start making some plans? No? I do have plans in my head and I’m not really sure how I should go about it. But yes.
Because I can be better prepared, and yes I could actually move on from ideation to execution.

Do I really need to write a blog today? No? I’m not feeling inspired. But yes.
Because I’ve committed myself to writing more and that makes me happy.

All of these above scenarios could’ve had a different outcome had I simply decided to linger in the “No”. What a huge disservice I would’ve done to myself, and for what reason? Because I was afraid to fail? Or because I cared too much about what other people would think? Or was it as trivial as giving in to lethargy or reluctance? Because the truth of the matter is, whenever you start to do, you always follow through. The key is to start.

Now I’m not here to explain how exactly doing all of those things is indeed beneficial to me, I’m simply here to share my experience of it – because I know I’m not the only one who battles such questions everyday, because I know frustrating, how noisy it can be, and how difficult it can be to listen to your heart, make the choice.

So what does all of this have to do with being an idealist? Let me go ahead and complete my initial thought on this – It is through experiencing things that we learn what we truly want, what we truly feel, and most times some experiences are more valuable than others. To ensure that we have the time, the space, and the mindfulness for these experiences, we need to detach ourselves from all others.  I don’t have the right answer as to how one can achieve this, but I will share my attempt at it – I’ve started becoming more honest with myself about who I am and who I want to be, I’ve also started being more grateful for my life and the endless opportunities it presents, I’ve started valuing not just time, but mindful time. And so I’ve learnt to accept that I can’t be everywhere and do everything,  nor can I never fail and be perfect, but also, that if I don’t try I’ll never know. This tells me that I have a choice – to prioritize, take action. Because if I don’t, someone else will, for me.

If you’ve watched the movie Never Back Down, it’s one of my favorites, you’ll know this quote from it which sums up the essence of what I’m trying to convey today – “No matter what happens, control the outcome, it’s on you, always has been.”

Much More

image1

Scrappy not crappy! 

Of course I didn’t bring my Mac. And of course this was the one day I didn’t have my little note book!

Lately, this seems the likely pattern of my life. Some call it unlucky, I choose scrappy. 

A series of events over the past few weeks have transcended me into an upheaval of emotions, thoughts, choices, and ultimately perspective. 

You know that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well I’ve always loved lemonade! 

I look ahead to an uncertain future, uncertainty in habitat, career, routine, more or less life. But one thing that is certain is change. So I can choose to embrace it, or, well that is the only option. Because like it or not, things will change, time will go on. So the real question is, what do I choose to do with it, this time.

I’ve been reading The Book of Joy – conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It’s here that I came across a philosophy the Dalai Lama himself practices, “If something can be done about the situation, what need is there for dejection? And if nothing can be done about it, what use is there for being dejected?”

And so, it is with this new perspective that I’ve made a promise to myself – one that is really for my self, to explore my self, my possibilities, my boundaries, my passions. To put this out here in the universe, it holds me accountable, to come through, not just for me, but for the one person who reads this and feels the same. Because there is no greater joy than to deliver on a promise you made to yourself, to find happiness within yourself. 

Today, I took the first step in this direction to follow my heart, to do the smaller things that actually fill the soul in my life. 

I rode around Brooklyn on a Citi bike, made a fool of myself on the road because I’m not used to the rules or directions, yet, and more importantly stumbled upon roads I’d never ventured on before. Yes I was nervous, I was even conscious, but after the first 20 minutes, I was simply happy! 

A part of a promise to myself is also undertaking a new hobby – pictures and videos. You’ll be seeing a lot of these here. Let’s just say I’m inspired by a friend’s work – Ben Culpin – you should definitely check it out.

As I walked down the streets of Williamsburg, I saw this coffee shop who’s name provoked this blog post – Much More’s. image2This girl was sitting outside, she had the most beautiful smile. At first I was apprehensive to talk to her, but I shook this feeling off and asked her if I could take a picture of the background with her in the frame. She shyly agreed, but was too conscious to look into the picture. In that moment I realized I have nothing to worry, but just to be myself, be real, because that’s all that anyone ever wants, a real sense of connection, human.

So here I am, sipping on the lemonade of life (well a cappuccino actually), at this homely coffee shop, Vittoria, listening to the old classics playing in the background and writing this post in the notes of my iPhone. Because, that is all I wanted to do in this moment – write – because there is always a way to do what you want, to do more, much more – just open your mind and see through your soul, not just your eyes. 

image3Somehow I always come across words, ones that I exactly need to hear or read or listen to at that very instant in my life. Another such quote I came across just yesterday on one of my favorite Instagram accounts – Nitch – is what I’ll end this post with. 

“It maybe that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” – Wendell Berry

Unfinished

5.15

Whenever I see New York at night, terrific surge of love overcomes me. New York is hope and challenge, good and evil, mystery and change, most of all unexpected. For you, I am grateful.

Have you ever got that feeling, that usually starts with a thought, or most likely a question – about the unknown, the uncertain? Well that’s me right now, living right in the middle of it, this uncertainty.

This post is coming straight from my heart, unbridled, unleashed by a series of thoughts and triggers – a song, a blog, a city that is now full of nostalgia, and the looming outcome of a decision (made for me).

Not that the song is new, nor is that the blog written by anyone I know, and yet somehow I’m just coming across it all, in a way that I’ll never forget, because in this moment, it feels like it is all made for me, to listen, to understand, to feel.

Too often these days while on my New York subway commute, I feel a surge of emotion just take over me, overwhelm me, fill me, until I have to let go, let go of some of it, through my tears.

New York. The city that made me. The city that embraced me in a sense of belonging even before I became a New Yorker. Home. Heart. Here.

I could never take it for granted you know, it meant too much, it means too much. Not many people are lucky enough to feel this kind of connect with a city, far less this city, and even of those, much less who understand it, this connection. Me, like I said, New York made me.

Here is life as I know it, in the pages of my many notebooks, in the words of so many others, in the books on this city, in the air, in the hustle, in the pace of this city, in my work, in my relationships with all the strangers in this city, all of which, are now the essence of this life as I know it, here in New York.

To take me away, it would always be unfinished, this life, as I know it.

I feel my soul tearing apart with every one of these thoughts, and yet it is this very city that holds me together, because like I said, it made me. It changed shades as I changed with it, because of it; every shade, deeper into it, into me.

To take me away, it would all be unfinished, this life, as I know it.

New York inspires and intimidates, consumes yet invigorates; it will be all encompassing and in-comprehensive, all at the same time, and yet through it all, you will nothing less than adore it, for shedding all the skin off of you, till you are nothing but stark naked in your own true skin, and for that, you will be grateful.

And so today New York is me, and I am New York, with every fibre of my being – you may take me away from New York, but you can never take New York away from me.

Who Would It Be?

For you, a thousand times over…_5.7

I was always the one to bottle up my feelings. In fact I became so good at hiding all emotions that belonged to me, that I had myself convinced of what I thought to be true, rather than what I felt to be true.

I know I’m not the only one. More often than not, we all hide our true feelings for reasons more than one. Maybe it’s fear of rejection, or maybe that of hurting those we love, or (and I believe this is possibly the most common) because we don’t think we are deserving. I know all of the above have been true in my case.

It’s not that I’ve never written on this subject before, but this is my first attempt, maybe brave maybe foolish, to unfold these thoughts, not within the pages of my notebook, but into the larger world.

Feeling vulnerable? Maybe I am.

What has given me the courage to write about this today is a couple of different things.

I had gone for the Writer’s Studio 30th Anniversary event at the Strand Bookstore. Just being amidst so many talented writers, hearing them read excerpts of their created works so fervently, it aroused a feeling of belonging within me, a commitment to writing, to words. When Monica Banks, wife of Philip Schultz, the founder of Writer’s Studio, took over the dais to speak about what it meant to be there 30 years later, she couldn’t conceal her emotions, and the quiver in her voice brought forth not just her vulnerability, but her immense passion, leaving no one in that room untouched.

As each writer spoke or read out pieces they had worked on, two things became very clear to me – their love for words was above all, and maybe, just maybe, the only thing above it, was their love for this community and its founder. The last two speakers wrote a humorous ode for Philip Schultz, and even though I had never heard of any of them before, I felt the  exact same emotion as everyone in that room. As everyone laughed together at what were obviously insider jokes, for those who knew what it was to be a part of the Writer’s Studio, for those who knew Philip Schultz, I laughed as though I was a part of it all too. And all I could think was, words can create the most powerful connections, the most powerful emotions. Here I was in a room full of strangers, all of us bonding over common desires, to solve the mysteries of our lives, through our love for words.

Just moments before the event, I was browsing through the bookstore. Placed on the table was a stack of books, simply the sight of which brought back a flood of feelings. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Immediately purchasing it, I rushed to the coffee shop across the street to start reading it, a third time over, diving into a sea of feelings, a third time over.

It is a personal favorite, not only for the brilliance of the writing or the writer or the story, but for it’s ability to evoke such deep, unbridled, emotions from within me. I had first read it 6 years ago, at a time when I had taught myself not to feel anything, or at least not to show that I feel anything. And even then, I remember the intensity of feelings I had felt, the tears that I shed, which in some way relieved me from the burdens I had taken on, by burying all sense of emotion, somewhere deep within me.

I’ve come a long way since then, from self denial to self awareness. My journey of self awareness began under the influence of GaryVee, he remains my North Star for the sole reason, that because I could relate to his words, I could embrace my true self. And because a large part of being my true self is my expression through words, that also means I have to embrace my vulnerability.

And since I have decided to write on this subject, I owe it to him, someone I haven’t written about so far, but who’s influence is seen in my writing, well actually not just my writing, my entire life – Michael McCutcheon. It is because of him, and him only, that I have learned to love myself. It is because of him that I am not afraid of feelings, I’m actually more aware of them. The vulnerability that I once ran away from, today that itself is my authenticity. I have learned to own my strengths, but also my weaknesses, and more importantly I have learned from him that I’m never going to be perfect, but that I can be completely true. I can live in unpredictability and yet be comfortable in chaos, because what the truth is now, is true for now. I know that it is my responsibility to choose my way of life, of thought,  I know that I am important, that I have value, and that, I have a purpose.

Today I am committed to my vision, my purpose, and to myself – and for that I am willing to do whatever it takes, a thousand times over.

So when I ask myself, “Who would it be? Who would it be that I would be willing to do it all?”, the answer, in my mind, is clear – all of them, everyone, everything, that has given me this purpose – for you, a thousand times over…

What’s The Reason?

They say whatever happens, is always for a reason, and usually for the best. IMG_1663

As a child I used to think, who is the they, how do they know? Nonetheless this stuck with me. I would tell myself this repeatedly over the course of my life, sometimes not knowing what that really meant, most times not convinced that it was true. It helped to say it though, think it, and so somehow I would believe it?

But today something interesting happened, and I’ll get to that in a moment. Let me back up a bit. It hasn’t been until recent times that I’ve truly embraced my own life, my thought in shaping it, my role in making it. This has made me more appreciative, even grateful for where I am, of who I am, and those that have played a role in this journey of mine.

Lately, it had started to feel like I was in a race, not against anyone, but against myself, my past, my own time. It was as though I was telling myself, “You’ve lost a lot of time not being you, not living up to your life. You now have to make up for it, do more, be more, in half the time, double the effort.” I know you’re thinking that’s not a bad thing, one can always be better. 100%. But race against time is one, no one has won.

What was I trying to achieve? Turns out I was actually trying to find something, not just anything but something really meaningful – in fact, it was my meaning, my why, my reason, to my life. A few steps ahead in my journey, I have come to realize that you’re not supposed to beat time, you’re supposed to be with it – spend it wisely on doing things that make you happy, that bring you value. To each their own.

For me, it means being fully dedicated to my work, being of value to it; it means cultivating my passion, my writing, bringing value through it; it means being with my family, bringing value to them.

Something I’ve not written about before, but is important to understand the context of my story today, is about my work. Those of you who have been reading my stories would know that I’m obsessed with stories, always have been. I believe in the power of a good story, and am always looking for one. You would think I would be working as a journalist, or a writer/blogger, when in reality I work at a media agency. I took up the job as challenge to myself, because it was something I had no prior experience in (remember my race to do more). Recently, I was promoted into a new role, again something I have had no prior experience in, but solely because I have built a relationship, with my Director, Hugh Prysten, my boss, my mentor – who has a huge influence on my life, who inspires me to be better, to do the right thing, and do it better.

This new role needs me to be involved hands on in data validation and analysis, information design, and the way I look at it now, storytelling. When I started out, I remember being so unsure about how this was all going to play out, my own interest, ability, growth, and the connection of all of this with my greater passion. But I told myself there was a reason and it would be for the best. I trusted Hugh, and I was determined to work hard. I was also curious to find out this reason for once.

That brings me to today. Today, I found it, this reason, my reason.

I came across an exhibit by IBM – Hidden Portraits, an initiative of Arts by Watson. I encourage you to take a look at the website to get a deeper understanding, but I would summarize it in a simple way – a deep analysis of data on famous personalties to draw insights that the world would never have known about them, communicated through experiential installations in collaboration with artists.

An interactive part of the exhibit was answering questions for Watson while he analyzed me based on a few traits using highly complex tools like Tone Analyzer, Visual Recognition, Personality Insights, Natural Language Learning (I don’t really know what they mean either!). Within a few minutes a picture of me was printed out, made up of emojis that reflected my personality. MIND BLOWN. For the first time, in that very moment, I felt as though this was exactly where I was meant to be, what I was meant to do.

All of it suddenly made sense – why I love stories and design thinking, and why they are connected, why I took up this job and why I wanted to work with Hugh, why I was intrigued by Tableau and why I work on it today, why I came across this IBM exhibit event on Facebook and why I decided to go visit it. The thought, that maybe someday you’ll see one such exhibit that I have worked on, that I designed based on insights I drew from people and their stories, from experiences and their meaning, it made me realize that what I really want to do, is to tell stories, and the way I want to do it, is by marrying data and words and experiences. That thought right then is the reason my life has taken the course it has.

They say whatever happens, is always for a reason, and usually for the best. They say the truth.