Category Archives: Dreams

Bi-coastal-curious

artwork by: Nan Lawson

April 5, 2013

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a few months now and it’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to need to fashion a more bi-coastal lifestyle so I can spend time in both of the cities I love. I met this wicked cool artist selling her illustrations in a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market who was raised in Orange County, lived in NYC for many years, and now lives in Portland. She travels throughout the year selling her work at some of the best arts & crafts fairs around the country and then returns home to Oregon. We bonded over being California gals who lived and loved NYC, but couldn’t stomach the daily grind anymore. Other cities better suit our more laid back constitution, desire for natural surroundings, and thankfully, afford us home studios where we can make art on a consistent basis.

Yes, this is the type of lifestyle I wish to create. Spending time in multiple locations mixing it up is essential for megawatt personal growth. Travel by its very nature, opens your eyes, keeps you on your toes, refreshes your perspective. Home base acts as a creative sanctuary. I can only be in one place at a time, but if I’m imaginative about it, I bet I can shoot for the best of both worlds. I’m certainly going to try.

I must say, I’m not especially interested in having a monogamous relationship – with NYC or LA. Serial monogamy still holds a certain appeal, however, as there are many other spectacular cities worthy of a longer gander during this particular incarnation of my soul. Perhaps I’m ready to explore a more “polyamor-metropolis” lifestyle.  This has not been my typical modus operandi, mind you, but apparently, NY has encouraged my mind to open even wider in regards to the flexible forms relationships can take, despite my almost constant battle with that concept over the years. Bottom line: it is natural to have love for more than one place, person, or thing at a time. The more open your heart is, the more space there is for many desires to flourish simultaneously, the more exploration one is wont to do.

My open mind also thinks it sounds like a fantastic idea to structure my life so that I can enjoy spending time with men from both coasts. They are so different and yet so complementary. I get a spectrum of desires met by both. Oh please, may I have one of each? Sounds good in theory, but seriously, it’s never really been my style and the older I get, the less inclined I am to extol the virtues of multi-tasking. Ideally, there’s a man out there somewhere who understands and appreciates the beautiful complexities of both NY and CA, and is open to building a bi-coastal existence together.

During the last of my Manhattan years, I think that’s what I was secretly wishing to find in a mate – a New York man who, shortly after falling in love with me, would realize his readiness for change and be up for giving the west coast a try. When I revealed this to my best friend one day, she said, “If you want to be with man who’s interested in living in CA, why don’t you find one who’s already there?!”

She had a point, a good one that made increasingly more sense as time wore on. As I ultimately discovered, it’s much more difficult to encounter a west coast man living in the east. They are not as apt to flock that direction. East coast men in the west, however? Surprisingly abundant! As a few “east gone west” men have confided, “once you get a taste of the left coast life, you rarely venture back again, except to visit.”

Bi-coastalism, while also good in theory, is not as easy as it sounds in practice. Many people try it for a while – winters + summers in California, spring + fall in NYC – until one place inevitably seems to win out. While six-hour flights aren’t too terribly long in the scheme of things, they do tend to take their toll with frequency.

I admit, I struggle with chronic “grass is greener syndrome”, wondering if I’ll ever be 100% happy with where I am in the present moment, but I know I’m not alone. When it comes down to it though, your dissatisfaction is really about you, not your whereabouts. When you move, you don’t leave all those things you’re disenchanted with behind, you take them with you. They are you. Certain circumstances and dynamics, habits and patterns may change when you uproot yourself, but they might not, so be forewarned. YOU are ultimately the common denominator in your restless quest for greener pastures.

The flip side of that coin is, the city you choose to leave may not change either and will in all likelihood, remain much the same place you left, if you decide to return. Many of the things I disliked about LA are still very much a part of LA. I just accept it all a little more readily now. Many of things I initially loved about NY, eventually drove me rather nuts and made me want to flee.

Some people like to stay in one place and nest, others prefer to roam and experiment. I’ve got a dash of both – one part homebody artist introvert, one part wander lusting traveler social butterfly. Who says I have to choose? I believe in having my cake and eating it too, since I never much understood that expression anyway. I appreciate the merits of dwelling in Los Angeles and the last few months have taught me that I’m gonna need to scratch that NY itch ‘cause it ain’t going away. Therefore, I hereby set the intention to visit NY at least 2 – 3 times a year, ideally mixing pleasure and business, in an attempt to satisfy my myriad desires and explore my budding bi-coastal-curiosity.

CA & NY

May 20, 2013

I booked a plane ticket back to NY a few weeks ago. I made arrangements for places to stay, scheduled lots of quality hang time with friends, made a list of all the art events I wanted to check out (particularly: Recalling 1993, Street and Punk at the Met, the architectural sculptures along Park Avenue, Orly Genger’s rope installation in Madison Square Park, just to name a few). I planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn, eating my way through Smorgasburg, staying at the Wythe Hotel, going to see the Shins concert in Williamsburg Park. I looked forward to capping off the trip with a few days on Fire Island as a guest at my friend’s summer share. I even came up with a story idea to write while I was in town, did a ton of research, booked reservations, and then… it didn’t feel right.

What?! Are you kidding me? After everything you’ve been posting about NYC these past few months? All the missing and pining and lamenting you’ve been doing! Now you aren’t gonna go?! Have you lost your mind, lady?

Let’s just say that, while many awesome plans did indeed fall into place that would’ve made for a fantastic reunion with NY, others did not. A couple of gigs that were supposed to make this a work trip as well, got postponed for the time being. Then there was an unfortunate hiccup with a guy I’d briefly dated and had been maintaining a long distance flirtation with since I left. I’d literally just finished arranging some stellar plans for our much discussed and long overdue rendezvous, when he informed me that he’d recently run into his ex-gf and they’d decided to give it another try. Doh! C’est la vie. Timing really is everything.

In the weeks leading up to this triumphant NY return, I kept saying to friends that I felt as if I needed to go back, in order to move forward. Many friends who’ve left NY have also made a similar boomerang, and thus, understood my inclination. They also shared that, when they did go back, they soon realized they didn’t belong there anymore. One said, “Get used to it. You think you’re beyond it, you’re enjoying a new life, and then that pang for NYC sneaks up on you unexpectedly, at random times, months, even years later. It never completely goes away.”

Nevertheless, I wanted to catch up in person with the friends I’d been missing so much. I desired some spring romance after months of anticipation. I ached to see how NY would feel again after putting some much needed distance between us. Was I right to leave or would I consider living there again? I thought the only way to know for sure was to go back and trigger some epiphanies. Maybe then I’d finally be able to embrace LA in a way that I’d not yet been able to, if I could just get this out of my system.

But as my departure date crept closer, I attracted answers, and my heart said: This isn’t the right time. I don’t need to go back so soon. I really miss my friends, but they ARE still a part of my life. We talk on the phone all the time. They’ll understand. They’ll come and visit too. Do what’s best for you right now.

So, to my surprise, I’m not ready to go back to NY yet. I don’t need to walk the streets and realize I don’t belong there anymore. I left. I know that already. I don’t need to go back to move forward, I just need to move forward. There are other places on the map that are stirring my wanderlust. I spent the past 5 years in NY. I should venture somewhere else! I want to experience California’s beauty again – take a road trip up the coast, through redwood forests and wine country, up to the Bay Area, visit my west coast friends. I’d love to return to my beloved Hawaii, or go travel somewhere I’ve never been – Bali, Italy, Spain, or ?!

New York will be there. My life in Los Angeles is achieving its own forward momentum and I’m in the midst of a bunch of projects that I’m really enjoying. I’ve only just begun to lay the groundwork and build anew. Stay the course. I need to trust the instincts that encouraged me to move on and pursue uncharted territory.

Reality check: I know I have a bad habit of staying stuck in the past and waiting to see if something might still be there, even when I really know better. I’ve held onto people and places I’ve loved way longer than necessary. I’ve given too much credence to my doubts and engaged in a ton of second-guessing. I’ve put myself through emotionally trying situations only to discover that, yes in fact, that was wrong for me, and damn it, I knew that already!

This is a real opportunity to move forward, full steam ahead. Choosing not to go back to NY means I’m making progress. I’ve officially turned a corner and this is a good sign. Sure, I’ve made the mistake of wasting precious time gazing far too long in the rear view mirror, but now I’m actively focusing on the present, and the future, without dragging myself through the proverbial mud first. Looks like I finally learned that lesson! I guess it just took awhile for my heart to catch up to what my head already knew.

We’re on the cusp of summer here and you know what? It’s high time I give up the struggle! I’m releasing this weird fear of being happy and comfortable in Los Angeles. I’m moving my bi-coastal-curiosity to the back burner. It might stay there permanently; I might opt to stir that pot when I’ve got a new body of work to tour with. Never say never. Right now, California and the Pacific Coast is calling my name and I’m eager to get re-acquainted, sans regrets.

i heart california

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Have you ever thought you needed to revisit the past in order to move forward? Did you ever desire something so whole-heartedly, only to suddenly experience a moment of clarity and completely change course? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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Artwork by: Nan Lawson. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Art, Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Travel, Writing

Back in “LA LA Land”

California Dreaming

I’ve always disliked that nickname for Los Angeles – “LA LA Land” – it implies this city is some sort of fantasyland where its inhabitants perpetually flit about with their heads in the clouds, in the relentless pursuit of stardom and success, jetsetting on flights of the imagination and building castles in the sky, while basking in the eternal sunshine of our spotless minds. Well, okay, perhaps there’s a little something to that assertion, on the surface, but that’s a topic I’ll tackle in a future post about what I consider to be the real Los Angeles.

Having spent the last 5 years living in a rough ‘n tumble concrete jungle and observing how Hollywood is perceived by the rest of the world, I can appreciate why folks might erroneously draw such conclusions. After all, it is particularly dreamy here in California – dynamite climate all year round; pretty people; clean streets; pioneering free spirits; health consciousness; cinema studios; silicon valleys; beaches, bays, forests, mountains; 500+ miles of beauty from head to toe! Can you really blame us for being so happy-go-lucky?

Disclaimer: I’m not particularly crazy about the abbreviation “LA” either, but I’m about to use it a whole lot because it does make for convenient short hand. Respectfully, this is Los Angeles, City of Angels! Otherwise known as: HOME.

hwdgratitude

Being back in Los Angeles this time around has been a literal breath of fresh air. The weather = absolute perfection = warm + sunny, blue skies + gentle breezes. So grateful not to be freezing my ass off back east right now! I love being back in my home, giving it some much needed TLC. I’m clearing out the cobwebs, re-discovering all the beautiful keepsakes I’ve collected over the years that I left behind in storage. I’m having fun doing a bit of re-decorating, making the house my own again. I’ve got so much more space it’s taken me a bit of time to get used to spreading my wings and inhabiting it fully. I had all the overgrown brush hacked away and am bringing my garden back to life – planting succulents, resurrecting the compost bin, sowing the seeds of my vegetable & herb garden, giving patio furniture a fresh coat of paint. I’m getting buff from all this diggin’ in the dirt. My skin already has a lovely sun kissed glow and it’s only March! Hummingbirds buzz through the yard daily, gracing me with good juju as they suck nectar from the birds of paradise. It’s so gorgeous and peaceful here, my little slice of heaven.

productivewinter

I am home again, in my comfort zone, but it’s fresh. It’s weird to be back in the city where I grew up and feel like we’re strangers. I don’t know if this or that is still open. There are all these new places I don’t know anything about. It’s a disconcerting feeling, especially since I pride myself on having my finger on the pulse and knowing exactly where to go. LA feels at once familiar and yet rather alien. But that’s exactly what I wanted. I always said if I ever returned to homebase #1, I’d want it to be my choice, on my own terms, and for it to feel brand spankin’ new again. Mission accomplished.

mulholland dr

How fortunate I am to be able to take a time out; to take stock, re-group, and contemplate what’s important to my soul again. I made a decision to put myself first this year and follow my bliss, take my passions off the back burner and place them squarely in front of me. What are my priorities? What do I really want to create in this space and in my life? What do I most want to do with my time and resources? LA affords me the ability to marinate in these questions for a spell and focus on the task of re-inventing myself for this next stage of the game.

I just enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School – a sassy, no nonsense online business and marketing class for women entrepreneurs – so I can really hit the ground running and get super pro-active about developing a new business plan + lifestyle that’s in alignment with my current interests. I’m ready to put into practice all these ephiphanies I’ve been having about my work, art, and life. I can already see how much NY got inside my veins and how that go-getter drive is manifesting now that I’m back.

Thrilled as I am about all the positive shifts taking place, one of my oldest, dearest friends called me tonight to ask, “Are you happy back in LA?” Apparently, my recent FaceBook statuses may indicate otherwise. Yes, of course, I’m happy. But her question did strike a nerve and I found myself trying to reconcile the conflicting complexities of my simultaneous desire to be both present in LA and back in NY.

feelings co-exist

I mean, it’s only been 7 weeks. It takes time to re-adjust. I just spent the last 5 years in NYC living a totally different existence. I didn’t even return home once in the last two years. I barely left Manhattan at all, for months at a time. NY got her hooks in good and when you’re entrenched, it regularly feels like you just can’t pull yourself away. Opportunities crop up lightning fast, so many irons are constantly in the fire at once, if you dare leave, you just might miss something. Or so I told myself.

I won’t lie. My head and heart are still very much in NYC. I miss walking the streets; the electricity in the air; my friends; my favorite spots to drink, dine, and daydream. Hell, I even miss the damn smells. I had a dream the other night that I was getting on an airplane, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m going back so soon!” Another dream a few nights later, had me navigating the maze of Manhattan, desperately trying to get home because I forgot to pay my rent, a whopping $2000/mo. When I finally walk through the door, I discover a tiny, windowless, empty room. I have no belongings because I’m too busy busting my ass at work to actually furnish it. NYC literally haunts me in my sleep.

I guess this transition would’ve been easier if I hated NYC. But I don’t. I still love her. I’m straddling the US, metaphorically speaking – one foot’s back in LA, the other’s still in NYC, and doubts about whether I made the right choice continue to linger.

I do still wonder if I should’ve given it more time. I started searching for apartments in Brooklyn before I left, thinking perhaps that charming, slightly quieter borough might be the answer to my chronic dissatisfaction. Searching NYC apartment listings is a super depressing exercise, especially when you’ve lived elsewhere and are able to draw comparisons to how much more bang for your buck you’d get anywhere else on the planet. That last ditch effort at apartment hunting truly tested my power to maintain a cheery outlook. I give myself credit for doing it fairly diligently there for a while, but day by day, I slowly lost faith in my amazingly fortunate real estate karma and ability to manifest yet another flexible miracle, rent-stabilized abode.

I’d already moved 3 times in the span of 5 years while living in Manhattan. I no longer wanted to live in someone else’s place with their ugly ass furniture while they were indefinitely out of town, and run the risk of being kicked out again once they decided their adventure elsewhere was over. Nor was I keen on living with 3 roommates, for which I’d still have the pleasure of paying at least $1000/mo., after living alone for the past 19 years. As a freelance artist, I don’t make 20 times the amount of rent that most NYC landlords insist upon to even consider your application, and the hooping jumping required to sign a lease is utterly absurd!

Brooklyn does indeed rock, and I very much wanted to join the community at 3rd Ward, and have the experience of living there too before I left NY for good, but when reflecting upon what I really envisioned for my life in the long run – spacious living, studio space, travel, warm weather, having a child – I just wasn’t convinced that Brooklyn was really the answer to my prayers either. When I began to think that relocating across the country would be easier/more appealing than moving across the river, I knew I was done with NYC. Once that decision was made, a huge weight began to lift from my shoulders… sort of.

finalchapternyc

Saying goodbye to NYC was no cakewalk. In those final days leading up to my departure, I walked the streets choking back tears, visiting all my favorite places, one more time, for now. I seriously wondered how I could make the decision to leave a place that I loved so much, the city that was now my home away from home, with so many friends who’d become like family to me. But I just knew I had to. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I may be a romantic, but I’m also a pragmatist. My current apartment sublet had become an unbearable daily onslaught of threats, bullying, and stress, and I no longer had the will to fight. It was simply time to let go and move on.

aurevoirnyc

You can be certain about a choice you’ve made and also have doubts; mixed emotions and why-if-onlys will still fuck with your head. As such, my LA re-entry has been a bit of a rollercoaster. At first, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It’s finally over now. I’m home. I can relax. I settled in, enjoying the creature comforts of home and the abundance of natural beauty, but I also continue to long for all I left behind…

anothertrytugowar

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Have you ever made a gut-wrenching decision to let go of something you still love? Are you torn between two people, places, or things? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next: exploring my bi-coastal-curiosity and what happened when I decided to return to NYC…

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Filed under Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Writing

A Change of Heart

Part 3 of My Hurricane Sandy Diaries

Saturday November 10:

I did not cry throughout the Hurricane Sandy blackout experience (save a couple moments when my eyes welled up over people’s heartbreaking stories of pain and loss). Not until yesterday that is, when I finally broke down and let it ALL out – a long, heaving sob about everything. I haven’t done that in a long time.

I am aware that it’s rather silly to cry about anything I’m going through right now. People died during the storm, others lost everything. I’m gonna cry because I had no power for a week? Because telecom services are still down in my neighborhood, so I’ve had no Internet access for days and I can’t send text messages? Chock it up to Mercury retrograde. This too shall pass.

Hurricane Sandy really did put life in perspective – what’s worth getting worked up about and what isn’t – which is why I’m acutely aware that these tears are really not about any temporary communication snafus. The truth is, I just can’t do this anymore. I think I’m ready to move back to Los Angeles.

nyc-vs-la.fall

If I’m really being honest with myself, I need to admit that I’m fed up with New York and I have been for a while. I’m sick of the break neck pace of this city. The gritty, dirty, smelliness. The crazy people shouting in the street. The drunks & junkies passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. The young partygoers who step right over them in their short skirts and stilettos without so much as a second thought.  The NYU kids, and bridge & tunnel set, who infiltrate my neighborhood to get wicked drunk and act stupid, then throw up all over the place and go home.

I’m sick of hostile, selfish jerks fighting about meaningless bullshit. I’m sick of people constantly approaching me on the street; always trying to sell me something; disguising their agenda; wanting a hand out. I’m sick of lacking in personal space. I’m sick of jam-packed subway trains; waiting for buses that never come on schedule; navigating through hoards of people everywhere I go. I’m sick of being “a bag lady” that has to carry 20 lbs of crap around all day because it’s not feasible to run home between meetings. I’m sick of buying too many groceries and having to lug them 15 blocks + 5 flights of stairs, when I can’t get a cab. I’m sick of dragging all my dirty laundry 4 blocks to the nearest filthy Laundromat. I’m sick of how expensive it is to live here. I’m sick of busting my ass at multiple jobs just to barely make ends meet. I’m sick of my rude, nosy landlady; tiptoeing around to avoid her; living without hot water and heat at least several days out of every month, even though she just raised my rent. I’m sick of freezing cold winters; all those lost months spent indoors waiting for the return of pleasant weather. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m sick of it ALL.

Yep, I’m coming to the realization that the pace and tenor of this city just doesn’t suit me. I’m a California gal, who runs on California time, at California speed. I need more nature than the park can provide. I need sunshine, space, clean streets, some peace and quiet, please! I’m also realizing that I gave up a pretty lovely life back in Los Angeles – a beautiful little home in a picturesque hillside neighborhood; a foxy Volkswagen at the ready in my garage; my family close by.

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate these things before, I DID, but perhaps I have an even greater appreciation now that I’ve lived in Manhattan. I was always aware of, and very grateful for my extremely good fortune, which is probably why I never truly set the wheels in motion to live in another city, even though I thought about it for years. Sure, I daydreamed of giving San Francisco, Seattle, or Hawaii a go, but I never thought I’d actually have the guts to move or the wherewithal to successfully thrive outside of my hometown.

lavsnybandw

I never thought NYC was a place I’d ever live. In fact, I was quite sure it would “chew me up and spit me out.” Yet it called me. Once I began to explore the possibility, events unfolded rather effortlessly to move me cross-country. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, go somewhere completely different, and kick my life up a notch. I had a lot to prove, to myself mostly, about what I’m truly capable of. New York gave me that. She toughened me up and forced me hustle. I needed that swift kick in the pants and she delivered in spades.

But New York has also worn me out. I feel like I’ve aged 2 years for every one I’ve lived here. I’m tired. And lonely. I need some love, not another hard knock lesson. This city can light you up like a firework, make you feel as if you’re living the dream, and are the luckiest person alive just to be a part of it. It can also be harsh and unforgiving. New York doesn’t owe you anything. She’s not going to make it easy on you. She may even kick you while you’re down, if you’re not careful. Sometimes when you’re at your wit’s end, she might cut you some slack, but probably not for long. There are certainly many other friendlier places on Earth to live. New York is great if you: have money (and lots of it); thrive on chaos; require constant stimulation; are a workaholic; have ADD, a thick skin, and a high tolerance for other people’s suffering; don’t need a lot of space; can’t exist outside of epic urban habitats.

Perhaps I’m just too sensitive to live here. Maybe I want an easier life after all. Is that so wrong? I don’t want to struggle anymore. I don’t have to. I’m lucky. I can leave. I have a choice, a Plan B, a really awesome one at that.

It’s true, I let opportunities slip through the cracks. I had an abundance of good ideas that I didn’t follow up on. I chose to prioritize the needs of my clients, for the sake of making money, over the things that I’m really passionate about. I took the safer path and thought small. I lacked faith in my abilities. Often I didn’t have the energy, or the inclination, to compete in this cutthroat game. Maybe I could have taken greater risks, thrown more caution to the wind, but it ultimately goes back to the pace thing. I just didn’t have it in me, to do it all and devote myself 24/7. I want a life that’s about more than work.

I might’ve had it when I first moved here. There was a time when I was willing to do whatever it took to stay in New York. While living in my first apartment, I was suddenly given 25 days to move out and at that time, going back to LA simply was NOT an option. I wasn’t going to leave NY before I was ready. This was my dream. I wanted to build a life here. No one was going to take that away from me. Yeah, I had that drive at one point, but I lost it somewhere along the way. To be fair, I did try especially hard to make this work. I applied for hundreds of jobs. I worked at a vintage clothing boutique on Orchard Street (before it went out of business), as a home/office organizer, a photography assistant,  a stylist, a hand model, an executive assistant for several high-profile CEOs, all the while pursuing my own personal writing and photography projects. I explored lots of avenues, but nothing really stuck. I kept giving it more time, hoping all these irons in the fire would manifest into my “big break” if I could just be patient a little longer.

There was a time in NYC’s history when you could live in Greenwich Village as an artist and not have a job. You could just be an artist. What a revolutionary concept. It’s what people did and there was a community here to support that – in the 1920′s era of Edna St. Vincent Mallay and Dorothy Parker; in the 1950/60′s Beat Generation era of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan; and in the 1980’s “NY 500″ era of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. It was a profoundly grittier Village then, but you could survive with a little help from your friends. Everyone: paint, write, perform, produce shows, make films, host salons; express yourself, tune in, drop out! But those scenes don’t exist anymore. When millionaire developers buy up nursing homes and low-income tenement buildings to erect glass box condo lofts for the mega-rich, and rent for a 300-square-foot shoebox can easily run you $2000 per month, how does anyone manage to live here without earning a six-figure salary?

can't afford to love ny

I did periodically re-evaluate, but the answer I kept receiving: “Give it another year. It’s not time to pull up stakes yet.” People would always tell me, “It takes at least a year to feel comfortable in NY. It takes at least 3 years to get your bearings. It takes at least 5 years to really establish yourself here.” And in the back of my mind, lingered this nagging question, “Yeah but, at what point do you read the writing on the wall and decide that enough is enough?”

2012 certainly fit that bill, serving as a huge mirror and provoking much reflection. The year kicked off with bang, when the guy I’d been dating unexpectedly had a New Year’s Eve freak out and broke up with me shortly after midnight. This coincided with the equally sudden passing of my landlord in his apartment downstairs and the unbearable stench of death that lingered in our building for months. Spring packed its own punches as I was hired and then subsequently fired from what I thought was my “dream job”. A series of nasty legal disputes, violations of privacy, and abusive threats turned my once comfortable apartment sublet into an intolerable source of stress. Thankfully, summer blessed me with a few desperately needed getaways to Kismet, Fire Island. And fall graced me with a trip to the rolling hills of Burgenland, Austria where the emphasis on fine wine, family, tradition, and luxuriating illuminated life’s paramount importances to me. Then of course, Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast in late October, yielding the biggest lessons of the year.

are you happy?

So, as a result of all this soul-searching, I’m finally clear on a few things: I want to be an entrepreneurial artist, not a corporate career gal. I want to have the time and means to pursue my passions: for food, drink, culture, and travel; research, writing, photography, and cartography. I want to live in a house, ideally close to the ocean, that reflects my personal design sensibilities. I want to travel and see the world. I don’t want to work multiple jobs that I have no vested interest in for some overpriced, cramped apartment that will never belong to me, and doesn’t afford the opportunity to venture much of anywhere else.

I want a creative, collaborative partnership with a compassionate, free-spirited man who values the balance of work and play; who desires true love rather than perpetual bachelorhood. Not too many New York men are looking for this with so many beautiful options at their disposal. (Yes, I chose that word on purpose.) Also, I don’t see myself raising a child here. The idea of walking down the streets of Manhattan with a baby, amidst this swirling chaos, scares the bejeezus out of me. (Not to mention, the schools are so expensive and competitive!)

New York certainly got its hooks in me good though. I definitely bought into the work driven, fast paced, single serving, hustle bustle. I may have even convinced myself that I’d be content building a life here for the long haul. But a part of me will always feel out of alignment with this place. You can take the gal out of California, but you can’t take California out of the gal. It’s where I come from and it’s a huge part of who I am. The Universe planted me there from the beginning for a reason.

There was a time when I equated going back to LA with failure. If that happened, it would mean I wasn’t strong/ambitious/talented enough to hack it in NY and I’d return to being all the things I’d left behind – single, isolated, bored, and complacent, again. But things have changed, I’ve changed. I’m the one who gives meaning to my experiences. I can choose to see this return as a new and exciting, completely different era, a clean slate. I’ve gained a much clearer understanding of who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve got this NY energy coursing through my veins now and I can put it to better use in LA. It’s simply impossible to go back to the way things were in the past.

So, does this mean I don’t love NY anymore? Hell no! Quite the contrary. Much like a love affair, you can love someone deeply and know that they’re not a good match for you, that you’re not long-term material, and your destiny lies elsewhere, impossible as it may feel to walk away. I can’t change the things I don’t love about NY, that’s just who she is, and I need to accept her, worts and all.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid to go back to LA. I am afraid to fall into old patterns and habits. I’m afraid to drive again. I’m afraid I’ll be filled with regret, miss NY, and feel as if I made a terrible mistake. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make my new career dreams come true or meet my ideal romantic partner there either. I’m afraid to go backwards, rather than forward.

It’s clear to me now that my biggest blocks about returning to LA are mental ones. It’s all a matter of perspective that I alone am responsible for. I choose my attitude, thoughts, and actions. YES, it is time to read the writing on the wall. Not just read it, but do something about it. I don’t need to fear this. I need to listen to my heart and let go of the things that are no longer serving my highest good! Life is too damn short. I have faith because, you know what? I trust myself and this change finally feels right…

make the jump

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Have you ever been guided to make a big move? Did you experience a series of AHA! moments that prompted you to change your life’s path? I’d love to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next week: Living in New York is a lot like having a love affair…

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Time Out, Take Stock

time-out(First drafted in October 2012)

It’s official. I’m in a serious artistic rut. Battling some painfully persistent photo/writer’s block here. My perfectionism has gotten the better of me. I’ve made procrastination my new art form. The voice in my head is a relentless, critical taskmaster. I am frustrated. I am irritated. I am at my wit’s end.

I know I need to do certain tasks, but the thought of tackling them just makes me wanna take a nap. I hurt my back recently, and even though I was in constant pain and could barely walk, I had trouble giving myself permission to rest and heal. I kept feeling like I should work and “at least be doing something” if I was going to “lay around on my ass all day”. Not really a great mindset to encourage creativity. In my heart, I know I need to just sloooow doooown, but I can’t bring myself to do it without reproach. I am my own worse enemy, critic, and naysayer. I utter things to myself that I’d never allow anyone else get away with. Why?

procrastination-640It’s a challenge, being a freelance creative, a one-woman show. You’re not only an artist who’s supposed to deliver the goods in a fresh, innovative, and timely manner, but you’re also the CEO, responsible for running the operations of your entire business. Unless you can afford to hire a support team, you’re your own personal assistant and bookkeeper, responding ASAP to near constant inquiries, calls, and emails. Research; budget; hunt down payment for months old invoices. Schedule your life in between your work commitments; search for upcoming gigs, a full-time job in itself. Much time and energy is spent in pursuit, often with little or no pay off.

Not to mention these days, you’re also marketing manager and tech support. Shoot, convert, organize, edit, process, retouch, design, backup. Maintain a website and a blog; update them consistently with the new content. Install the latest software; make sure it all functions seamlessly. Plug into social media: FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, so you are “liked” and “shared”. Attract “friends” and followers. Build a list and write a newsletter. Get the word out about what you’re doing, so you can maintain constant interest in your “brand”. Post, tweet, pin, check-in, hangout; repeat, ad nauseam. Don’t forget to be creative! Wake up and do it all over again tomorrow, weekends too, so you can pay the bills and eat this month. Exhausting!

I keep having the same conversation with my creative friends as many of us wonder, “Why I am spending hours upon hours doing this? Is it really doing any good?” Most of us do these things because we’re so passionate about what we’re making and saying that we’d do it anyway, regardless of whether anyone is actually paying attention, whether we’re getting paid for it, or any of this translates into future business for us. And people know this, which is why we’re frequently asked to do it for free.

artists don't work for free

Truthfully, if this is where my head is at, I just need to STOP for a while. Time out! Take stock. Assess. WHAT am I doing? Is this really what I WANT to be doing? Is there something I’d RATHER be doing? Where?

I suppose I could easily fill my blog with event announcements, videos, photos, whatever; something, anything, to keep my page current, my SEO optimized. I want to. I really do. I drive myself crazy thinking about it. Berating myself. I lose sleep over it:

“How hard is it to just post something short and simple? It doesn’t really take that much time. I seem to post links to articles, videos and photos, thoughts du jour on my timeline and vision boards, right? I easily waste hours doing relatively nothing on those time suck sites. I have an extraordinary archive of photography, already in my collection; years of work, just ripe for the uploading. I have ideas coming out of my ears (and piles of notepads and paper scraps to prove it). Just do it already!”

Ugh. Shut up, ego. What does the voice of sanity say? Let it go. Fuck it! Even if my last post sits there, staring me in my face daily, unchanged in my Safari Top Sites, as a reminder of my “laziness”, and everyone loses interest.

remind myself

I know I don’t want to just pack my feed with fluff. I don’t want to fill it with things that other people have written or created. After all, is it about quality or quantity? I DO want my site to be about my own original content, not someone else’s. My stats indicate that’s what my followers respond to the most anyway, and how people find Eye For Style most often, even from posts I wrote years ago.

I mean, really, what I need to do is get to the root of this mental block. I need to quit trying to make everything so damn perfect. All it does is create artistic paralysis – “if I can’t do it just so, I won’t do it at all.” This whole rigmarole makes me feel really lame as an artist. Hell, it makes me feel really lame as a person. I’m smart and talented. I’m not just making this work for myself. Just try, lady, even if it sucks.  Show up, stick with it, don’t give up!

I know how important it is to power through. Getting started is often the hardest part. If I just commit, and start to put one foot in front of another, things do usually start to flow, it’s true. There are also times when the best remedy is just to step back. Stare off into space and daydream, curl up for that nap, bust into a dance break, take a walk, read, breathe, “do nothing”. This is often when the magic happens – when I allow myself to relax.

At this stage of the game, living “the artist’s way” for many years now, I have come to understand this about myself: although I may not feel creative, right now, that experience is temporary. It is only a matter of time before I feel inspired again. I MUST create. I am compelled to, in order to feel good, to feel like myself. It’s what makes me tick. It’s why I get up in the morning. I can NOT turn this off. I don’t know any other way to BE.

creative is a way of life

Okay, so I’m in the thick of a transition right now. I think we all are actually. It is not a coincidence that so many people are experiencing profound change and upheaval, contemplating what they really want to be doing and being, as 2012 draws to a close. The energy of this year has been straight up funky from the get go! It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by the pace of life we’re currently experiencing, what with all the instantaneous data that’s constantly available, right at our fingertips, begging to steal our attention away from the present moment. It’s okay not to know; to exist in a state of uncertainty for a while; to reflect on the path I’ve been on, and the road I want to take moving forward. It’s OKAY, okay?

I realize this “time out” is in fact giving me clarity, uncomfortable as I may be. I’m grateful for the time to just ponder and figure things out. My vision for the new direction I want to take my art/photography in IS in fact crystalizing. I’m actually excited about it! But I want to do it, not just talk about it anymore. That’s a huge factor in my frustration.

So, visualize. I’m ready to design my very own art studio, project lab, playground. YES, I love that vision! I’m ready to fully stock it with every tool and toy; utilize all this cutting-edge technology; explore new techniques; take my art to new heights. I’m ready to roll my multi-passions into one dynamic experiment in personal creativity. I’m ready to mix mediums; print photos on canvas; integrate paint & collage; craft textiles. I’m ready to fashion functional beauty and make some fucking statements!

These are very recent epiphanies. Thankfully, this new train of thought does inspire the hell out of me. I’m just experiencing some growing pains and evolving – as a human, a woman, an artist. I can indeed marinate in this for a little while longer. I know I need to simplify things. I’m aware there’s no such thing as perfection. I do want to share with my community. But, I’m also not going to rush it. I’ve got to let go of my time frame issues. I will not be bamboozled into believing the myth that I must “do it all”, 24/7, if I want to be successful. I will not subscribe to the glorification of busy!

glorification of busy

I create my life. I’m already a success. Creativity is not a competition. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Faster is not necessarily better. Comparing myself to others always gets me into trouble. Accumulating acquaintances does not equate to popularity. Money is not the most important goal. My work is a part of what I do, it does not define all that I am. People who support me will be there to enjoy my creations in whatever time frame they evolve.

I hereby make a promise to myself, to post again when I’m truly inspired to, and not a minute sooner. I will craft a game plan so that I can enjoy the process and live life at a speed that suits me. I will take action steps in pursuit of my goals, working in a way that’s in alignment with my constitution. I give myself permission to take stock, to change course, to create, not to create; to be gentle with myself, knowing full well that the ideas will flow, the execution will follow, in an authentic way, in right timing. So be it!

zayn malik quote

Phew! Glad I got that out of my system. I take a lot of these epiphanies for granted now that I’ve been sitting with them for several months. Reading back on it allows me to witness how much I’ve changed in a short period of time. More on that later….

I’m curious, what are you fed up with? Are there any areas of your life where you feel out of alignment, or could benefit from “loosen the reins” and cutting yourself some slack? What do you give yourself permission to do?

I’d love to hear from you, so please write a comment below. If this resonates with you, share with a friend! Maybe there’s a take away in it for them too. And be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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Coming up next week: Part 1 of my Hurricane Sandy Diaries – the Frankenstorm that put everything into perspective…

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Filed under Art, Dreams, Writing

Hello Again

Hello, my friend, hello. Just blogged to let you know…

No, this post is not going to be about Neil Diamond, though his song did pop into my mind as soon as I sat down to write this for some reason. (Yes, I AM a 70’s child).

So, you may or may not have noticed that it’s been a while since my last blog post (= understatement). I admit it – I completely and utterly fell off the blog-wagon. This was not just some brief hiatus, or your average dry spell. No. This was full-on radio silence, emergency drought conditions, one loooong bout of absolutely nada. Could you hear the crickets?!

Yep, I was in a serious rut – artistically, personally, professionally. I was in the thick of battling some painfully persistent photo/writer’s block. My perfectionism got the better of me. I turned procrastination into my new art form. I lost my way and forgot what was important to me for a while.

I could’ve easily packed this blog with posts about other people’s events, cool music videos, pretty photos, timely quotes, whatever; something, anything, in an effort to keep this page current, my SEO “optimized”. I wanted to. I really did. I thought long and hard about it. (Agonized is more like it.) But I didn’t. I just LET IT GO. And my last post has sat there ever since, staring me in my face daily, unchanged in my Safari Top Sites, as a reminder of all that I “haven’t been doing”.

That said, I’m actually proud to report that I resisted the urge to merely fill this feed with fluff & stuff, instead opting to wade through the extreme uncomfortable-ness of taking a near blackout break from social media, to just sit with it for a stretch. I needed to get quiet; a time out, to take stock. I needed to figure out why I felt stumped and what the blocks were about. I needed to get clarity about what I truly want to be doing with my life, and where I want to be doing it. I needed to make some BIG LIFE CHANGES.

I mean, at the end of the day, is it about quality or quantity? I decided to choose quality and take some time to re-assess what I want this space to be, for me AND for my readers.

This post is my way of letting you know that I have stumbled through that tunnel of contemplation and “not knowingness”, only to come out the other side refreshed, re-focused, and ready to hit the ground running. Yep, I’m back! Better and stronger, new and improved, WITH a game plan. YES!

Much change has occurred in the last 7 months. Luckily, I kept writing, even when it felt like pulling teeth, even though I kept it to myself. Now I feel like it’s finally the right time to share what happened with you – and I’m so jazzed to do that!

WARNING: Eye For Style’s blog content is going to take a bit of a shift from here on out. It’s going to get a little more personal for a spell. I’ve got some stories to tell; a few life lessons, epiphanies, and experiences I’d like to relate. Stories that I believe other creative, urban, spiritually minded types who are in passionate pursuit of discovering their life’s purpose will relate to.

DO NOT FEAR: Eye For Style will still continue to dish up all the awesome art, culture, food/drink, design, and travel content you’ve come to know and love. I could not be more dedicated to exploring all of these sweet treasures of life. It is an indelible part of who I am. It is simply in my blood to seek out maximum beauty and pleasure; to share my discoveries and tricks of trade, no matter where I may find myself. Keeping all these gems to myself is no fun! I will always love touting my favorites; sharing insider tips; making spot-on recommendations to keep other savvy souls like you “in the know” about the greatest offerings the best cities in the world have on tap. I will always love snapping photos, crafting words, and making my carefully curated findings look freaking pretty! None of this will change. In fact, I’m committed to even more original, quality content moving forward. Pinky swear.

But first, let’s catch up, dear friend. I fell off the radar and have some explaining to do. My bad. It wasn’t you, it was totally me. Allow me to share some stories about where I’ve been, so you know where I’m coming from, and where we’re going. I promise, these tales are worth sticking around for. (If you don’t think so, tell me. That’s what friends are for.)

That’s right, I’d like your feedback. Can you relate to any of my recent AHA! moments? Have you ever needed to take a time out and re-group? Please post a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. This might be cyberspace, but one of my favorite parts of the internet is the sharing and connecting we have the opportunity to do through this “world wide web” of ours.

Thanks in advance for your support and I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the unfolding of my recent course correction. If something resonates, pass it along to a friend? Hopefully your friends will discover a take away tidbit too. And be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

With love,
Carly

Well, maybe it’s a little about Neil Diamond:

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Ice Cream Dreams

With this luscious breeze in the air, feels as though the seasons are a changin’, but luckily there are still oodles of opportunity this weekend to get your fill of summer’s favorite dessert: ICE CREAM! (Did you just scream?)

Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 18, Dylan’s Candy Bar will be giving away FREE scoops from noon – 4 p.m at their flagship location, 1011 3rd Avenue @ 60th Street.

Sunday, August 19, New Amsterdam Market will host their 3rd Annual Ice Cream Sunday, from noon – 4pm, directly next to South Street Seaport.

This afternoon-long fundraising event will benefit NAM’s ongoing projects while bringing together the most eclectic and seasonal northeast ice cream makers, each of which will create up to four unique ice creams specifically for the market, using only seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients. Save room to sample creamy creations by:

Gabrielle Carbone of THE BENT SPOON
Joseph Roselli of DREAMSCOOPS
Amy Miller of EARLY BIRD COOKERY
Tracy Obolsky of ESCA
Keren Weiner of  IL BUCO
Ashley Whitmore of MARLOW & SONS
Fany Gerson of LA NEWYORKINA
Catherine Oddenino of LUCA & BOSCO
James Distefano of ROUGE TOMATE
Forbes Fisher of STEVE’S ICE CREAM
Ben Van Leeuwen of VAN LEEUWEN ARTISAN ICE CREAM

EARLY BIRD ADMISSION – Starts 12pm
$30 for 10 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 10 miniature cones

GENERAL ADMISSION – Starts 1pm
$20 for 8 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 8 miniature cones

AT THE DOOR: $35 for Early Bird, $25 for General Admission

Purchase advance tickets here and use promo code EDIBLEICECREAM12 for a $5 discount.

Monday, August 20, The Brooklyn Kitchen will host an Ice Cream Making Class, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, with their resident everything dessert instructor, Megan Fitzroy, Owner/Chef of Fitzroy Specialty Cakes, and former pastry chef at Torrisi Italian Specialties. She’ll teach you the science behind making perfect ice cream as you sample a slew of specialty flavors, and receive basic recipes to experiment with at home.

I’d also recommend an any time visit to new kid on the block, Fresco Gelateria on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, which serves up their family’s recipe for traditional Greek yogurt-y gelato. The space is beautifully designed. Its simple chic, white-washed space invites you to linger in nooks and on comfy benches as you people watch from the large bay windows. They make some really unusual flavors like rosewater, mastic, and goat cheese, and some road-less-traveled flavors like passionfruit, peanut butter, and biscotti. Not-so-standard vanilla bean, chocolate, and peppermint are also on hand to keep the less adventurous very pleased indeed.

So, treat yourself to a double scoop and happy lickity licking!

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Filed under Dreams, Events, Food, Music, New York City, Photography, Workshops

Eye For Style – Summer Services

Eye For Style Services is an exclusive personal concierge service for all your dining, entertainment, shopping, and travel needs. I love turning other savvy souls onto my favorite things, creating memorable experiences, and helping people live their best life. I’m a bonafide tastemaker with very high-standards, and lucky for you, I’ve got an arsenal of carefully curated sources and contacts, insider deals and tricks-of-the-trade, right at my fingertips and ready to tap at a moment’s notice. So, you share your vision, and I’ll make it a reality. No dream is too big or small. Imagine the possibilities…


*Special summer promotion:

Book between now and September 1, 2012, and you’ll save 10% off ALL style services. That’s any request, big or small, hourly or flat rate projects. I know you’re busy, so don’t procrastinate! Call the apple of your eye and make that date; flee the city for that long overdue coastal getaway; host an outdoor soiree before summer’s end; find that perfect look to make you feel like a million bucks! Life is short, but juicy. Savor it…
 

Service #1: Just a Suggestion

Do you need a spot-on recommendation? Where’s the perfect bar for a casual drink, or cool restaurant for a hot date? Where do you take that hard to impress client or out-of-town friend? What’s the quintessential boutique to find that perfect gift? Call me for a quickie phone consult and I’ll help you locate a guaranteed “no fail zone” to get exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t have time to take care of all the particulars? No worries. I’ll do the research, make the arrangements, and message you the deets. You just show up – and take all the credit for your impeccable taste.

From $40/hr.

Service #2: Wanderluster’s Cure

Desperately need a weekend getaway? Fantasizing about your next vacation abroad? Call me for a quick phone consult and tell me what kind of respite you’re craving. Whether it be spa, sports, or sightseeing, I’ll do my homework and provide you with a short list of available destinations, tailored specifically to your interests and budget. Don’t have time to make all the trip arrangements yourself? Fear not! I’ll customize a complete travel itinerary, from transportation to hotel, activities and eateries, for that perfect solo expedition, romantic escapade, or family adventure you’ve been dreaming of. Just pack your bags and prepare to explore new horizons. I’ll handle every tiny detail, you send me a postcard.

From $60/hr

Service #3: Omnivore’s Dilemma

Want to have a few friends over to chill? Host a fancy dinner party? Create a romantic evening in for 2? Call me for a quickie phone consult and share your culinary vision. I’ll head to Eataly, Chelsea Market, Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, whatever you’re in the mood for, to custom-design a terrific food & drink menu for you and yours. I’ll procure the all the necessary ingredients for you to cook, or devise an easy to assemble, pre-prepared feast. Better yet, hire one of my favorite private chefs and sommeliers to cater every course in style! Let your guests in on the action, or pretend you did all the work yourself. It’s our little secret.

From $80/hr

Service #4: Ready to Wear

Looking for a few new pieces to perk up your closet this season? Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? Don’t have time to find that perfect outfit for an event? No sweat! Eye For Style offers personal wardrobe services, with a seasoned commercial stylist, specifically suited to your needs, taste, and budget. We’ll shop together at your favorite shops or I’ll bring a collection of handpicked items right to your home or office. Looking fashionable has never been so fun and easy!

From $80/hr

Service #5: Order From Chaos

For information about my home & office organizing services, please click here.

Can’t wait to get started? Kick off your quickie consult via this request form:

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Testimonials from happy clients provided upon request. Just ask!

Flat rates available, depending upon scope, for every project and budget. 

Food & wardrobe services available in New York City and Los Angeles only.

Personal concierge & travel services available in the United States.

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Artwork by: freya art and design. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Dreams, Events, Food, New York City, Style, Travel