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Posts from the ‘reflection’ Category

The next chapter

This is a post I’ve been writing for months. My comeback post. I’ve tried writing it as a metaphor, as a poem, in a way that is much more eloquent than the reality. I was lost, comatose, blind and now I am found, awake, and with sight. It was arduous, cliché, and self-indulgent. This is too; so don’t get too smug or relieved. So although delayed, today is the perfect day. And in the end it doesn’t matter the way I tell it.

About 10 years ago I wrote a book. It was inspired by my year in Florida Post College, although in no way reflective of my actual time there. I was motivated and inspired to complete about ¾ of the project. After that I was fairly complacent to pretend like it never happened, but it was always on my mind, harping me to close that chapter so to speak. Although I was also comfortable ignoring this sentiment, my mother was also present to remind me of my desire to publish this book with clippings of articles on publishing, the names of self publishers scribbled on scraps of paper, and reminders during our daily phone chats. We had even begun brainstorming a second novel that we would co-author once this one was finished.

After she passed away, I though this is surely the chance I have to finish this novel, to use writing as a cathartic process, and begin to heal. But I did not do this. I avoiding writing like I avoided most things that I knew were healthy coping mechanisms one might potentially say. But one day, several years later, an amazing thing happened and suddenly I realized my hardships as my strength and that it wasn’t too late to shift gears. So shift I did and I’ve finally been able to finish the book* I began several years ago. It’s not perfect (sorry everyone who already purchased it 😉 )but it’s my story and I laughed when I wrote it and I cried too. And I did both when I read it each time. And I feel ready for the next one.

With that, I honestly can’t believe how many wonderful people I’ve accrued through my life who have stood by me for all of my highs and lows. I am a better friend because of you. I am so grateful that I have such a loving family and support system that has only continue to strengthen despite our losses. And I am grateful to have my mom still such a big part in my life through her memory and the values imparted upon me. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given and that life has patiently been waiting for my return. Thank you for waiting. Thank you for believing in me. So on this day, which I can hardly believe is the fourth anniversary of her passing I am happy to say that’s one down, several more to go. I toast you every day, but especially today. I miss you and love you and thank you for everything including the publisher recommendation. 🙂

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*Although this post is slightly more serious in tone, this book is not. It’s a lot of fun if you would like to check it out! A Girl, A Dream, and SPF 50.

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Talking to strangers

I’ll be the first to admit I have a Hallmark Movie problem. I can’t help it. I don’t like surprises and they have perfected a Marissa approved movie format that I just can’t get enough of. I love the clichés. I love that romance is always the answer and most of all I love that there will be a happy ending. Recently, as I embarked on my third consecutive film, I was chuckling to myself at an overtly cheesy scene where a complete stranger spews incessant unsolicited inspirational anecdotes on the main character, which then propels her along the remaining plotline of the movie. I laughed at the idea that such a peripheral character would approach another and impact that person so profoundly. Or at least as profoundly as Hallmark can accommodate.

That’s when I was struck by the memory of a woman I met when I was traveling this past spring. I was in a very bad place in life. In technical terms I was “completely freaking out”. It was ‘crying on the subway on the regular’ bad and I knew I needed to take action. After I hung up from a call with my dad, during which he alluded to the fact that I should avoid sharp objects, I took up conversation with a woman to my right at the bar. She too was at a crossroads, haven taken a new job and was uncertain about the risks. We only spoke briefly, but both shared our fears and it felt surprisingly natural. Despite the fact that I credit this mostly to the desperation we both felt, I remember feeling a little bit better after our chat.

meadows make me pensive.

meadows make me pensive.

I boarded my flight home and fortunately everything all worked out. I made some changes and was able to shift gears in a way that has allowed me the ability to survive a subway ride without tears. That moment in the airport wasn’t the most pivotal by any means. There were many more compelling conversations, but I do think it was an important one. Misery loves company I suppose, but more than that it was comforting to feel a little more connected to a seemingly random universe. It was nice to be reassured by someone who wasn’t actually obligated to support me. Not that I don’t love that reassurance as well, I will take as much support as the world is willing to lend my way. Anyway, the point is that is why I will continue to interrupt and annoy perfectly innocent strangers in airports. Fin.

This is 30

This week a friend asked if this is how I pictured my life at 30 and my immediate answer was “HELL NO”. I then proceeded to escort myself on a self-guided journey into a pity party for one. After I moped around for a while, referencing a few indications of my perceived lack of success, I snapped out of that thought process real fast. Of course this isn’t where I pictured myself at 30 because I painted it when I was about 6 and I l was never very good at art. Or sports… I digress.

So this is 30 and to be perfectly honest I am quite happy to leave my 20s behind. The older I get, the more legitimate it is for me to leave places before 10:00 PM. It is one step closer to getting to wear muumuus without judgement. And discuss casseroles and crock-pots for longer periods of time. So there’s that.

I took risks in my twenties that helped me figure out what makes me happy and what makes me sad. I have trimmed and tailored and cut out the fat. I learned that while Edward 40 hands is a good idea when you are 24, Hendricks Martinis with your best friends are better. And even best when you do both with your aforementioned friends. I feel like the past year has led me to a calmer state of Marissa. And I can stand for a little calm.

So it was a happy birthday for me and a happy birthday for BJ. He’s 6, which is 40 in cat years. I wonder how he’s feeling.

Bitch didn't even get me a present.

Bitch didn’t even get me a present.

 

 

Getting my mind right.

As I am about to turn thirty I decided it might be time to work on sorting out my life. You know, make some goals, achieve them, that sort of thing. As is the first step of anything I do, I began by soliciting Google for advice on what to accomplish prior to entering my third decade. I found this guidance to be a bit pretentious. Who has time to buy my first home, go to Paris, and fall in love in the next 2 months?? Okay maybe I should have started this effort in a timelier manner. First goal, procrastinate less.

What's on the horizon? We'll find out!

What’s on the horizon? We’ll find out!

Then I decided these lists are kind of silly. As big of a fan I am of the “listicle”, this is mostly for the ease of reading and laughter. If a list causes stress or anxiety, it’s a terrible list as far as I am concerned. So I started my own list and it seemed so trivial. Then I really thought about what I want to feel and how I want to be. When I did begin to form a small list of where I would like to be mentally as I launch my thirtieth year, I realized I am basically there. I am not perfect, HA NOT EVEN CLOSE. But I have a lot of goodness in my life, a lot more than most.

So here is the list of what I would like to continue to foster throughout the next 30 years. This is a good list I promise.

  1. Love – I don’t mean this in the romantic sense, but genuine unconditional love amongst family and friends and generally being a loving person.
  2. Forgiveness – I don’t believe in grudges. They are bad for your heart. Dad I hope you are reading this.
  3. Humor – I truly believe laughter is the best medicine. With the exception of you know, real medicine.
  4. Curiosity – The moment you lose your curiosity, the world essentially becomes pointless.
  5. Openness – This is something I am working on, but I believe to be open to what life throws your way allows for spectacular adventure.
  6. Hunger – I mean this metaphorically, unfortunately my body doesn’t understand that.
  7. Honesty – I think its good to be honest with others, but I mostly mean this in the sense of being honest with oneself to truly understand what one actually wants out of life.
  8. Communication – This is where honesty kicks in, in terms of relationships with others. Nobody is actually a mind reader, especially that lady in the West Village that claimed I needed to buy crystals in order to find love, but I digress….
  9. Loyalty – We all need someone to have our backs. I am not saying we need to form a gang and get matching jackets, but it’s imperative to be there for your family and friends and know they are there for you as well. This knowledge has saved my life a thousand times over.*
  10. Trust – Trust your gut, trust that things will work out, trust others, unless they seem untrustworthy, they just stick with the gut portion.

I really think that is it.  That’s the list. Sure it may be helpful for me to cut down on the amount of crime television I watch. I could potentially stand to lose 15-50 pounds. I am sure it would be nice to prance through a meadow of daisies with a nice gentleman for the rest of my life. It would be great if I could manage to fit a regime of meditation into my life. I am certain I should have saved more money by now.  But you know what? I am pretty sure I only want those things because of some other list I read and putting timelines in place doesn’t always help. With the exception of the weight loss portion, that definitely needs to happen for cholesterol and heart disease purposes. The spandex industry will be devastated, but we’ll all move on.

*I actually could write a tome on the love and respect I have for the friends and family I have in my life. I am continually inspired and amazed by how much support I have and I question how anyone survives without this type of network in place. Mission become a better friend launches NOW!

Somehow I got old and out of touch with reality.

As I stood in security at JFK this past Friday to attend a good friend’s wedding and a reunion with some beloved college friends, it occurred to me that I forgot the one thing I actually needed that weekend – my dress for the wedding. I was also 2 hours delayed, present-less, and on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

At least I remembered to pack undergarments, a shoe, and this cat.

At least I remembered to pack undergarments, a shoe, and this cat.

So when I frantically plopped myself down at the closest bar I could find I was pleased to be sandwiched between two sophisticated businessmen, clearly older and more established than myself. Sometimes when one is at one’s worst it is nice to be surrounded by stability.

I happened to notice the gentleman to my left was rather handsome. We begin to chat and I imagine our own impending nuptials He is a suit, in some type of nebulous banking pharmaceutical industry and clearly far more stable than some chick who is delayed without imperative luggage.

We share beverages, laughs, stories, and within five minutes it is revealed that he is also a recent graduate. From college. And I am old, a cougar, and a borderline rapist. Not to mention a lost soul teetering on the edge of unemployment… but alas that’s for another post. 😉 When did I become older and less established than most bar dwellers? When did my concept of age reality go so awry? Is my judgment that far from accurate? Deep thoughts…. mission get my life back on track commences now!

Sunshine on the horizon.

Hello Daylight Savings!

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I for one could not be happier for signs of spring. It’s been a hard winter and I, along with all other Northerners could use a little sunshine.  This first week was a little hit or miss, but I definitely feel good things on the horizon. The beginning of spring is always a joy for me because everyone completely overreacts in the sweetest way possible.  Here are the things I adore about the launch of spring:

  1. Once the temperature is above freezing and we don’t have hurricane force winds, New Yorkers shed all sense of clothing. Men immediately don shorts and boat shoes (which I love for many other reasons) Women, essentially wear as little as possible. It’s a win for everyone
  2. Smiley New Yorkers make for a happy Marissa. Spring literally feels like all NYC residents have entered a giant production of the Sound of Music (the happy parts) and it is simply gorgeous.
  3. Picnics become a part of my reality, which means my picnic backpack comes out of storage!
  4. Happy Hour is one of my favorite things and finding new rooftops and al fresco options is somewhat of a sport. At the first sprout of a crocus, restaurants open their doors and set up outside seating and you can rest assured this gal is there with a cocktail. Or 5.
  5. Concerts galore begin to pop up.  Okay all of these are not a part of the first signs of spring, but teasers begin. Summer Stage, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pool Parties (maybe they’ll come back??) There is legitimately free music as far as the ear can hear.

So enjoy New Yorkers, you deserve it. I hear it’s supposed 55 today, I’ll meet you in Central Park with some of my world famous Sangria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of my brand.

0001PoI have been thinking a lot about branding lately. As both a consumer and a marketer, branding is very important to me. I like to know from whom I am purchasing and I want to know the story behind this company as much as I want to truly know my close friends and family. I think other people agree, especially when you are committing loyalty to products or services. Brands become the type of long-term relationship that is much beyond filling a physical need. There is an emotional connection that develops with loyalty.

As such, people demand a lot more from each daily interaction they have, whether it be the procurement of a bagel, booking a vacation, or selecting a laundry detergent. There are now a million ways to communicate as a brand, each with a unique purpose. We all consume so much content it’s hard to cut through the clutter to understand what is actually at the core of what we want. It’s fascinating that there can be so many different layers of communication essentially conveying one basic message, “This is who I am.”

Even though there are a million ways to get the message out, in order to make a meaningful connection, the most important thing to define is who you are and what you represent. This makes perfect sense until I began thinking about what my brand would be. If I were packaging myself up and selling myself to the world, what would be my brand? Do I have an elevator speech that could sum up who I am and why I matter? Well not really, but I did create a cute word cloud based off of this blog and I learned a lot. Apparently really love Christmas. It does concern me a bit that the word Elf is as important to me as this blog indicates, but alas, it is a pretty fantastic film.

Happy branding!

 

 

Ch-ch-changes

Since it is the turn of the New Year I, along with all others, will end 2013 on a reflective note. In other words, ALERT serious post to follow!  I know I am scared too. Most years, amidst the celebratory nature of the surrounding toasts,  I say aloud that I feel that the following year will be better than the last. I rarely commit myself fully to this belief because of the resounding fact that I hate change.

As we all know, I am a 95-year-old woman living in a 29 year old body.  So I have grown comfortable in my crotchety ways. I most likely could eat the same thing for dinner for the rest of my life,  watch the same Frasier reruns, get the same Hendricks martini.  I love traditions, process, rules not so much, but you get it. So as the years have gone by and things have changed, I haven’t loved it. And as the past few years have passed, however hopeful I have felt, I knew at my core that things were getting progressively worse. Or more accurately things were getting more real and ultimately changing.

But I am happy to say I have had my last revelation of 2013. Although who knows, I could keep going all day and night! Here is my thought , things change, both those things that simply happen and have a profound impact, and those things that we actively choose to change.  That’s a fact, but here is the big a-ha moment that is most likely obvious to all other humans, but for a self-proclaimed change-phobe this was big, I can still maintain important things remain consistent while still allowing for change

Last year was the first Thanksgiving that my family celebrated without my mom and my Dad and I made the mistake of flying the coop and heading to Mexico for the big day. There was no turkey, no family gathering, no cooking, and most obviously no Mom. It hurt. It mad us sad, but the thought was, if we can’t have our traditions with Mom, then why have them at all? Let’s just get away. But this year my  sisters in law taught me that we can carry on traditions in a new space and keep both said traditions and the spirit of my mom alive forever.

So we had Thanksgiving in Philadelphia and everyone had to toast to what they are thankful for (side note – best drinking game ever).  And with Christmas is Seattle we opened new stockings filled with old favorites like socks and painted wine glasses.  These gestures may be small but it filled me with joy to know we can continue the traditions that my mom started and made us closer as a family. And this was the catalyst that made me further realize that the past is always with me, so although I don’t love change, evolution is inevitable and keeping these pieces with me is part of the process that will only make me stronger.  And with this thought, I truly believe that 2014 will be better than 2013. And I can’t wait.

Cheers and wishing everyone all of the best in the upcoming year.

a toast to change

a toast to change

A few nuggets of wisdom

The other night I had a hard time falling asleep. It happens. I get wired. My sleep cycle has no boundaries. Anyway my mind began to wander and  I began making some fairly astute conclusions that I will now share with my vast following in order to better the universe.

  1. A low carb diet doesn’t work if you just cut back slightly on pasta intake and immediately increase your bacon consumption.
  2. If you are dating someone for less than 2 months and they break up with you listing the fact that they aren’t yet ready to open a joint bank account with you as one of the reasons, it’s called dodging a bullet
  3. If you don’t immediately realize this, you may discover the merits of crying on the subway.
  4. These perks include but are not limited to the following: the subway increases invisibility, the rocking motion can be quite comforting, and the Poetry in Motion posters can be rather inspiring. Bonus points if there is an underground bodega from which you can procure a travel iced tea to drown your sorrows.

I don’t know how it was possible, but I quickly found sleep amongst this scintillating thought storm. Another finding, sometimes the ramblings of one’s own mind can be the perfect remedy for a sleepless night. Happy Holidays.

 

 

Pivotal moments.

Recently I was honored to witness the engagement of two dear friends. It was a beautiful moment that will be remembered for all eternity.  Picture it. Sicily Brooklyn, during the New York City Marathon… a handsome Irish lad took a knee, sacrificing his time to profess his love for all to see.  Not days later I was thrilled to receive the call that my best friend was going into labor with her first daughter. And just 48 hours after that, I received the blissful news that I am an aunt yet again. Needless to say, just kidding I will say it, it was a big week. I was on a high from the said engagement and baby arrivals that I naturally began thinking about the most important moments in one’s life.

So there I was, contemplating those moments one finds oneself ruminating about on rainy days, the ones that create an ongoing slow motion montage that would be featured during a pivotal plot moment if life were a romantic comedy. Which it should be, but I’ll save that for a later post.  I now present to you my top three most profound life moments.

  1. My first dream. I was sliding down a rainbow and when I reached the bottom I plucked from the ground an oversize, laminated, four-leaf clover. Rainbow? Slide? Lamination? What’s not to love and remember forever?

    This dream was so off the chain it continually inspires artwork such as this. No I didn't save this from my youth, I drew this a few weeks ago.

    This dream was so off the chain it continually inspires my art. No I didn’t save this from my youth, I drew this a few weeks ago.

  2. The first time I realized my extreme heat disorder and sweat through my tee shirt. It was summer and I was practicing my dance routine and discovered I was covered in sweat from basically shimmying for 5 minutes. I knew then that I was doomed.
  3. The first time I realized I was a giant. I was in the first grade and my best friend confided she was frightened by my size. I subsequently was named the Jolly Green Giant, thought to be a teacher as a 5th grader, and overall harbored a feeling of extreme height awkwardness until college.

Authors note: As with all of the imperative topics I cover, this is mildly in jest. I have obviously had more key moments in my life. It is my prerogative to leverage my awkward younger self-moments to make me laugh now and try to reconcile them in a way that makes me feel like an evolved person. And that dream was literally earth shattering.  A toast to more pivotal moments!