Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Better Than the Last...

It's only natural that on New Year's Eve, we reflect over the year that is rapidly coming to an end.  And in so doing, we tend to take stock of our lives, the good with the bad, and create a set of 'resolutions' accordingly.  It's a nice way to enter into a brand new year; armed with aspirations and only the best of intentions.

I guess you could say that it is somewhat of a romantic notion; how the very last day of the year can spark so much enthusiasm and hope for the coming year.  I don't really have resolutions though.  To be perfectly honest, I never much fancied the idea of giving myself an even bigger "to-do" list than the one that life sends automatically direct into my mailbox, e-mail inbox and sticks on to my already crowded magnet and post-it splattered refrigerator door.

Is that less than ambitious of me? Probably so. However, I like to think of myself as a realist. Never a huge fan of feeling like a failure; I just don't find it necessary to add an even longer list of marks that I may or may not hit.

So, having said all that, I woke up this morning on this New Year's Eve, and I wondered: is my strategy of 'non-new year's resolution' working out very well in my favor? Or... am I just going through each year without... uhh resolve? 

Hmmm... I might have to get back to you on that one...

So now, I'm sitting here with my coffee (of course) and I am seriously contemplating if there should just be one thing... just one, that is worth pursuing, even at the risk of, dare I even say the word: failure?

That might not be such a bad idea; to set out into a brand new year with at least one main focus or objective could actually provide an overall sense of guidance that could be very comforting when feeling, ehh... adrift.  Sort of like having a lighthouse in your harbor at all times... I like that.

I will tell you this much; I had no idea on this New Year's Eve one year ago, what 2013 would have in store for me.  Not in the slightest... But I can assure you that it has not only been an adventure, but a test of willpower every step of the way.

Sometimes I forget that even though it is a lonely road and sometimes a bit uncomfortable... this is all by my own design.  I made a series of choices that in one way or another, turned a life I had only been able to imagine, into something very real.

So maybe I am hitting my marks after all.

As 2013 comes to and end and we gear up for the New Year, let's aspire for greatness, intend for kindness and hopefully not abandon the lessons learned from the years leading up to this one.  Wait a minute, maybe I actually do have a few resolutions in my pocket...

May we all have a little taste of our dreams coming true in 2014.

I'm so grateful to you, my friends and readers for encouraging me to write and share this wonderful experience of life with you.

Happy New Year!!!!


Champagne.... and LOTS of it!!!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life

Have you ever accidentally overheard people talking about you when they thought you weren't in close enough proximity to actually hear their words? Let me ask you something; did you like what you heard? Or were you in fact, horrified by their misguided and half-baked assessments?

The other day, I was at a little holiday party amongst a few of my co-workers.  Still relatively new to New York, I figured I ought to go to the party and socialize a bit.  When I got up from the table to find the restroom, I overheard some people suddenly begin to talk about me almost instantaneously.  The craziest thing was, they couldn't have been further from the truth... or my perception of it anyway.

I left the party shortly thereafter.  And as I slowly walked home, playing back the words and drunken assessments of others, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with a sinking disappointment.  I felt a little silly for caring so much.  But the truth is, I went to the party having an open mind about the people I was hoping to get to know, only to discover that a few of them had already made their minds up about me a while ago.

It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature: making snap judgements and at-a-glance presumptions without ever considering all the facts.

It was the night before Christmas Eve.  The cards had been stacking up against me for weeks.  And that experience at the party was enough to send me right over the edge.  But then, I got to thinking...

I may not ever understand how other people perceive me, or worse, how they arrived at their short-sighted conclusions in the first place. But ultimately, what I realized, is that in the long run, it doesn't matter.  

The big picture here, what matters, is how you see yourself.  From there, so much is possible.  

For a long time, how I saw myself wasn't entirely fair or very accurate. It was a similarly short sighted perspective, derived from a skewed perspective of my own reality.

And after thirty years of living life, following my heart and taking chances, I've come to appreciate the person I see today.

I am not a victim or a 'survivor'.  I am simply a human being who has made a zillion decisions over the past three decades that have all, in one way or another, shaped my experience on this planet in such a fashion that I am able to see the world and function within it, the only way I know how: with intense sensitivity and emotional awareness.

I think the lesson here is pretty simple; we are all the authors of our own story.  We have no idea what someone else is going through, which means that our assessments of ourselves and others is probably not entirely accurate. But, if we can muster up the courage to own our choices, as well as their consequences, we may find a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding.

People will make presumptions about you and assign a simplified version of your character.  What can you do? That's life. That is, most often, a filtering mechanism or in the very least, lazy social skills.

I'm not perfect. I may have had a few hard knocks and tough blows along the way.  But I didn't just stumble accidentally through major life events unknowingly or without great thought or analysis.  This very moment is the product of every choice that preceded it.

It may not be exactly what I imagined or had planned, but that could very well be God directing me to greater experiences than I was ever capable of imaging.

As we approach the new year, I hope to challenge us all to consider that our snap judgements of others are not productive or necessarily fair.  Furthermore, they could also be quite hurtful. This holiday season, give someone the benefit of the doubt and you might be surprised. Let their truth be revealed in time with compassion and even a little bit of faith.  Apply this concept to how you see yourself... and you might wake up more comfortable in your skin than ever before. 


Smoke and Mirrors

1 1/2 oz of Single Malt Whiskey
1/2 oz Benedictine Liqueur 
1/2 oz Byrrh Aperitif 
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain into a Coupe
Garnish with an orange zest

                           Wishing my friends and family health, happiness and love in the New Year. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Look Up!

I once heard it said that 'to turn the other cheek' actually means something more along the lines of 'shifting your perspective.' I guess that concept has always stuck with me.  And you know, it really does make sense.  It isn't so much an idea that you ought to just bend over and take it (sorry for that analogy) but rather, a sort of pause and extension of grace to consider the world as you know it from maybe a slightly different perspective.

What would we see differently if we turned our cheek? Even the literal physical movement of where we set our gaze tremendously influences our perspective of the world around us. 

I know this to be true; especially after living here in New York City for the past two months.  

When things are great, I look up... way up.  When I look up this high, I see birds zipping between buildings amid a back drop of puffy pink clouds and reflective glass panes.  That is when it feels amazing to be here. 

And when the days are more on the average side of life, I cast my gaze straight ahead. I move forward with purpose and some measure of focus.  I move along with the steady flow of life here and I get the job done.  I am neither especially high nor especially low. Those are pretty good days too. 

I spend a significant amount of time walking.  I am outside in the fresh air... sometimes in a complete trance.  Each day, I walk from place to place, bombarded by the zillion and one crazy thoughts I have going on in my mind at any given moment. And oftentimes, the more stressed out I am, the lower my gaze falls. 

On those days, where I was so tired, so beat up and on the verge of throwing in the towel, I can't help but acknowledge how much my perspective was influenced by the way I held my gaze... to the concrete.  It seemed that New York and I were/are a bit at odds about how exactly I am meant to live here.  And what I was beginning to see wasn't all that glitzy anymore...

What I haven't been able to write about for a good while now,  is just how difficult it has proven to be to make a life in this city. I am still without my own address.  I am living with friends who have sacrificed their own personal space, so that I may find my own little corner of this city to eventually call my own.  

I have been struggling with this process more than I can even begin to describe. I was so close to booking a flight out of here a week ago, that I practically had the exit strategy in full swing.  

Walking along my normal route, with my head tilted downward, I saw dirt, grime, poverty, trash, bubble gum, cigarettes, excrement (human and animal); all beneath the the crunching sound of the bones of my bruised feet. 

But then, I remembered that little New Yorker on my shoulder (he's a lawyer and curses frequently) saying "Look up. Adriane, LOOK THE FUCK UP!" 

I am then pulled away from staring at my feet and the concrete below and suddenly, even if only for a moment, I actually do look (the fuck) UP.

In that moment, you realize how so much of life (and how we experience it) is expressed through the lens we choose to look through. 

I suppose I just wanted to share this with you all today.  If you are facing something that is requiring a lot from you, perhaps it is wise to take a moment to consider a shift in perspective.  The world is comprised of many layers and factors.  And if you cannot see your way out of whatever crap that is tempting your demise or failure, then remember to look up; before you know it, so too will everything else.  

No more back up plans or exit strategies.  I am not leaving this city until I've accomplished whatever it is that brought me here to begin with. So with that settled, I'd say that things are definitely looking up. 


Spicy Margarita

1 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Splash of Sour Mix
Sprig of fresh Cilantro
1/3 small red chili 
muddle gently and shake ingredients
Salt Rim and a Lime Wedge!