Since the holidays, I have maintained a commitment to meditation almost every day. This morning as I sat cross legged I was conscious of the strong sun on my face. It instantly connected me to memories of being on a beach – off I went to Miami, Belize and Los Angeles. I basked in the feeling of the sun on my face until it slid behind the neighboring building. I took a few moments to think about the warm moment after it was gone. Why does the warm sun alter my whole state of being? After all, it’s just temperature! Here’s what I came up with.
- Warm sun = good times. The memories associated with the sun are typically accompanied by feelings of happiness, excitement and fun. In my beach-hopping meditation, I watched my favorite local band, Brothers of Others, play outside on a lazy Sunday in Miami. I felt the connection with my companions, I heard the music, my shoulders relaxed. Then I was pulling up to an island on a ferry in Belize, seeing it for the first time, riding a bicycle along it’s dirt roads with the wind in my hair, laughing, jumping off a dock in the water, gazing up at the full moon though palm trees, listening to a guitarist play Hotel California. My chest relaxed. Next, I flashed back in time to my Saturday mornings in California, biking The Strand from Manhattan Beach to Venice Beach and back. I jumped to my Sundays, driving up the coast and spending the days in Malibu. The narration in my head said, “your California life experiences were true live-in-the-moment ones.” The corners of my lips curled into a smile. These were all the sun-invoking memories that came flooding back to me in meditation like old friends.
- Freedom rings…in the sun. Freedom is another association I have with the warmth of the sun. Escaping to warmer climates means I’m out of the pressure cooker of New York life and into the discovery of myself and others. Warm weather experiences are typically associated with expansion and creativity. In New York, my success for work-life balance is marked “needs improvement.” I have a well developed Christel – NY Life script that reads, “work first, think work/work-related second, infill with self-development tasks to complete where possible.” The Christel – Outside of NY Life script reads, “open universal dialogue channel with higher self, connect with collective conscious, explore, play.”
- Sun’s out, guns out. When it’s warm outside I am more inspired to move my body. I connect best with exercise that includes an experience like: doing yoga outside, walking on the beach (preferable one I’ve never explored before), biking riding on The Strand, paddle boarding or swimming on/in a beautiful body of water. Point being, the Christel – Enjoyable Exercise script includes many things I can do in warm weather.
So this afternoon, I’m #sohappyandgrateful for the sun and for the gift of the sun on my face amidst this January day in New York. It’s also an acknowledgement of the many scripts I have developed and an opportunity to perhaps redline some of them to make me happier in the moment, even when the sun isn’t warm on my face.
Let’s Discuss: what associations have you attached to that rock of fire?
It was about the third day of a surreal adventure to Akuryeri (northern) Iceland. I had started the yoga retreat with the intention of reconnection. Reconnection with friends, with my yoga flow, with myself. We all know that time in our lives when we must shake off the dust that collects in our psyche from everyday life and allow our soul to shine.
On the yoga mat that day I felt a shift. That playful, sparkly Christel came dancing into reality again and my coat of armor started to fall away. I’m #sohappyandgrateful for the opportunity to reconnect and be reminded that I am my own best friend and I will be here for me until the end of time. It’s the relationship with the self that gets lost in the noise when we are playing all the roles of our life. I’m #sohappyandgrateful I make myself a priority, quiet the noise and celebrate the power within me. #sohappyandgrateful to all of you who shared the journey with me. Namaste.
Do you ever have someone that pops into your head and it compels you to call that person immediately? Today, a cherished spiritual cohort danced into my consciousness and I acted. The 4-minute conversation was a combination of quick debrief and swift words of wisdom. The last few lines of our exchange were the most powerful.
Friend: so, everything else is good?
Me: fine, crazy, as usual.
Friend: (laugh) Watch your words.
There are times when I fall off the wagon. I rebel against the idea that words (thought, written and spoken) are energy and have a power because what I intend doesn’t seem to be working. I scowl at the idea that thoughts become things after not seeing it manifested instantly. It takes an intuitive friend to realign me.
Tonight I am #sohappyandgrateful for my spiritual buddy’s quick adjustment. It put me in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day. I am fruition, I am light, I am laughter, I am. Plus, I have more than enough time.
When I was considering my degree options I felt the true cross roads of my life. On the cusp of my junior year in college, I had the gentle parental nudge to major in accounting. My accounting professor at the time fanned the flames, bestowing debit/credit accolades upon me and coining me “a natural.” I enjoyed him as a professor and I appreciated the time he took to encourage me. Then there was the artistic side of me, being supported by my messy experimentation with different mediums – charcoal, paint, clay – I submerged myself in my artistic assignments and floated along the river of expression through art. Last was the draw to my psychology classes. I could actually see myself scientifically unraveling the twisted minds of poor, unfortunate souls and rebuilding them into happy, healthy humans.
In the end, I chose a psychology major, business minor with a concentration in art (I was inclusionary even back then). I was a college junior with a brilliant plan! I spent the next two years feverishly working to fulfill my goal, undergrad psychology thesis and all. In tandem, I worked as a waitress at an Italian restaurant logging 20-30 hours per week.
Senior year my university offered campus interviews (cross road #2). The next natural step was to go to grad school, get a Masters and then a PhD. That was the way to really make something of a psychology undergraduate degree. The problem was I was burnt out from working and studying and finishing my undergrad thesis (and maintaining my social life). I was tired of foraging for money. I “caved” and took a job as a recruiter in Manhattan and tabled the higher education.
Since then, I have held recruiting, training, sales, operations and CEO roles. I break the psychology/business/art-mold. I went back to school much later but for my MBA in insurance and risk management, not psychology. My journey has been 80% transferable skill and 20% luck. Being able to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated jobs is my strength. When I look at my career I see a continuum and I can tell the story behind it. Not only that, but I help others to see the thread of commonality between one job and another. I assist in illuminating the big picture.
The truth is a degree can stifle you or it can set you free; it’s all a matter of how much power you give it to dictate your career fate. How are your beliefs about your own degree (or lack thereof) limiting you or supporting you?
#sohappyandgrateful for my messy career path, the skills I gathered (and continue to gather) and my ability to take them with me wherever I go.
I spent this weekend taking care of children that I adore. I quickly learned that keeping them in motion was the key to my sanity. I hatched a plan to meet up with their grandparents in the city for an early dinner tonight to ensure they were sufficiently tuckered by the time we returned home. In the time when kids are typically winding down, we were headed into the city to see Papa and Grandma. Olivia, almost seven, started with simple protests and concerns about weather (we were traveling by foot and train). I grinned and produced a leapard umbrella for her and a simple black for Rocco and I. A block from the subway it started to rain. Olivia complained, “see? I told you it would rain! We are going to be ‘zapped by thunder!’ We just saw them yesterday! I don’t want to go! Why can’t we just stay in the neighborhood.” She razzed her brother (subtly) on the train, and giggled evilly as he screamed for his nose back. To keep her occupied I gave her one of my good luck rubber band bracelets. It kept her sane for the last three subway stops. When we re-emerged from the subway at 66th Street it was, well, we were in a biblical downpour. Olivia despaired, “I don’t want to go here! My feet are getting wet and dirty! I’m wet and uncomfortable!” We got to Papa’s and her barrage of complaints subsided. It then transformed into, “look, Aunt Christel gave me a good luck bracelet that keeps me safe from thunder.” On the way home, knowing we had a window before the rain started again, it finally became the adventure. She met a new friend in the train – a girl her age named Holly – and they chatted the whole way. She told me she loved me. We skipped home each holding a handle of Rocco’s stroller singing, “we did it! We did it!” We double high fived at the door. As I tucked her into bed, she kissed me and said thank you for the adventure. In her words, “Aunt Christel, it was really exciting.”
Tonight I am #sohappyandgrateful for the Lavaia children, the opportunity to be part of thier colorful world and the knowing that Olivia will always look back and remember she didn’t just “make it through the rain.” Rather, she skipped home through the storm.
Gantry State Park is alive tonight
. It’s like the whole world is coming out to celebrate the gentle breeze kissing the Manhattan skyline. The memory of the biting cold waterfront is too fresh but provides the perfect comparison to
tonight‘s mild gift. Why hope and optimism abounds with a change in season is beyond me. But tonight
I don’t ask why, I just enjoy.
The last time I walked this path along the East River I said goodbye to my 30’s. There seemed to be work to do to close up the decade. I lay here looking up at the sky now and feel the satisfaction of life unfolding effortlessly. #sohappyandgrateful for my easy breezy moment.
It didn’t happen intentionally. The buzz of a dance floor is mesmerizing and so, of course, I was drawn in. First night in San Diego at an entrepreneurs’ conference I encountered a dancing fool and his worthy adversary mom. The father offered, “we’ve been married for 46 years and she’s been doing this ever since.” He was so in love. The family dance-off was nothing new but still exhilarating after all these years. I thought, “I want that always.”
The next night in San Diego us entrepreneurs found ourselves in a base pumping, return-to-youth moment. Strobe lights, collective energy. Heaven.
Third night, we became ambassadors on the dance floor. Entrepreneurs from New York and Brooklyn collected friends from Syndey, India, Nashville, South Florida, Aftica and beyond. Dancing became our common language, affirmed quietly the next day with sheepish passing grins from the shy-by-day at the conference.
Fourth night we flipped tables over, listening to live music at a party the Canadian entrepreneurs graciously threw to end the conference. Unadulterated energy and fun atop banquettes and aside one another on the dance floor.
#sohappyandgrateful for the opportunity to dance and bond for four days. To love and learn. To be pleasantly surprised. To laugh hard. To create memories I still carry with me at this moment, though they occurred days ago.
This week begins the countdown to the end of a decade and the blast off to my 40’s. Four has always been a special number for me – 4/4 is my Gramps’ birthday, 4/22 is mine. Tonight, as I embark on my “lasts”(last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…) I am grateful for the opportunity to wind down and reflect on this incredible decade.
My gratitude overflows for: the launch and success of my business, the opportunity to work closely with my mother, the magic we experience, the depth of spiritual understanding I have gleaned, Long Island City living, my evolution as an entrepreneur and all the people I have met as a result, the collection of memories I have had with long standing friends and family, all the children that have been born into this world (thanks, friends!) being witness to the success of all my siblings, my opportunities to travel and see the world and all the big and little gifts from the universe. I am one lucky girl!
The past few days I have been reminded of how the year ahead holds unlimited potential and tomorrow can be a fresh start. Truthfully, remembering major life event dates is not my strong suit. I do love the opportunity, however, to contribute to those moments. In recent years, I have grown to rely on my social media prompts. Say what you want about social media but personally it keeps me connected in both happy and seemingly difficult times with my comprehensive circle of friends, family and colleagues.
So this morning on my 7:59am Jet Blue flight, I’m grateful for the social media assist (today is xx’s birthday, xx is having a work anniversary); it gives me the opportunity to spread a little joy. I’m grateful to all of you who are emoting (“I broke my leg!” “I smacked my car up!” “Fml.”); you give me the opportunity to show up for you. I’m grateful for this fog that keeps us on the ground and affords me a little space in my day for these pursuits of connection. I’m grateful for Jet Blue’s FREE Fly-fi that allows me to post this 20,000 feet up! Kudos to you, @JetBlue for upping the game. Above all, I’m grateful for another minute, hour, day to reset if it’s not going right or to ride the wave if it’s going perfectly.