For the Love of Lists

Hats off to 2012! Wherever you are, I hope you’re able to reflect on the highs and lows of the year with honesty and humility. Among the many year-in-reviews and recap videos, I found this one particularly gut-wrenching- 2012: What Brought Us Together

Gazing between boroughs on the Brooklyn Bridge. My favorite photo from 2012 (snapped from my iPhone, no less) represents both the grandeur of Manhattan and all the chaos, sweat, and tears this concrete kingdom afforded me in 2012.

Gazing between boroughs on the Brooklyn Bridge. My favorite photo from 2012 (snapped from my iPhone) represents the grandeur of Manhattan and all the shaken beauty this concrete kingdom afforded me this year.

With 2013 fast approaching, it’s list time. I love these handy things. They’re the most basic tool to getting organized when one actually keeps track of them and checks consistently. While charting course for the New Year, I’ve started to think about the ways I can make 2013 better – more authentic, challenging, and meaningful – through…you guessed it!…lists.

Charlie O’Donnell, partner and founder of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, writes a weekly newsletter about tech events in NYC. (Sidenote: If you are new to the space and want a quick way to get acquainted with NYC tech, ‘This Week In NYC Innovation‘ is a great place to start.)

Last week, he included a compilation of list topics to think about for the new year, which I found very useful:

  • Three people I’m actually friends with that I would like to be better friends with.
  • Ten people I should know, but don’t.
  • Five people I’d like to help be successful.
  • Three things I’d like to learn.
  • A physical goal (a time, a measurement, or just being able to be more bendy, less creaky, etc.)
  • An emotional goal.
  • Something you’d like to close the book on and move on from.
  • Three ways you’re going to try to get more sleep.
  • Read a book a month…list the first three you’re going to read.  (Might I suggest re-reading the Great Gatsby before summer.)
  • Five people you feel like you’re supposed to be friends with, but really don’t like, that you’re going to unfriend/disconnect/ignore.
  • Three things that you’ve been procrastinating on that you’re going to get done.

I like this list for its holistic approach. It takes into account practical, emotional, physical, and educational goals. There’s also heavy emphasis on improving relationships, while understanding that not all interactions are created equal (ie. friendships vs. idols vs. mentorships, even un-friendships are included).

I’m sharing a few of my goals from this list because I firmly believe if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. Here’s to accountability!

3 Things I’d Like to Learn This Year:

  1. How to cook (I’m keeping a list of my favorite dishes and recipes to learn – open to additions!)
  2. Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator – open to help!)
  3. Bible Literacy (open to fellow faith buddies)

A Physical Goal

  • Be able to do this without sounding or looking like a gorilla. (Getting rid of the pooch would be nice too.)

3 Ways to Get More Sleep

  1. Having a set bed time. I’m setting it for 11:30 – 7:30 (for now) which gives me a healthy 8 hours.
  2. Completely turning off an hour before bed. That means, winding down and turning off the computer/TV by 10:30 pm.
  3. (Hm, I can only come up with two.)

2013 Book-a-Month List (in no particular order; open to other good reads)

  1. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo
  2. On the Road, by Jack Keruoac
  3. The Education of Henry Adams, by Henry Adams
  4. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
  6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
  8. The Influencing Machine, by Brooke Gladstone
  9. Change by Design, by Tim Brown
  10. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
  11. St Paul Trois Ch Teaux, by C. Joybell C.
  12. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

3 Things I’ve been procrastinating on that WILL get done

  1. Submitting to Thought Catalog
  2. Exercising
  3. Calling a loved one..because in this day and age, it doesn’t happen enough.

The full list of notes are currently scribbled in my TextEdit, and I’m well aware many will remain unfulfilled. Life tends to begin (how dare it), pushing these goals to the dusty, untouched crevices of the mind. Hard to say which will stick and which will be thrown to the wind. Life is unpredictable. Either way, it’s here for the love of lists.

“You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” 

C. Joybell C.

Happy New Year! I wish you all a fruitful 2013 with many healthy happenings.

End of the World

If the world were to end tomorrow, would you be ready?

My take on 12/21/12 is that the Mayans got it wrong and the world will continue to turn on its axis. NASA agrees. However, I’m of New Age mindset.  To me, 12/21/12 marks the end of an old world and the start of a new one, ushering in an age when Earthly inhabitants undergo positive transformation. In other words, New Years Day. Time to make and break our resolutions with unfailing eagerness.

2012 Recap

It was the most tiring, terrifying, and terrific year in memory.


It started with bright eyes and high hopes. I moved to a small but cozy Park Slope apartment to begin my New York saga symbolically on New Years. Forget that I wasn’t sure if I would make enough to pay monthly rent. Waking to the sight of the Chrysler building from my bedroom window was enough reason to get out of bed. Anything was possible.

I was first exposed to the realities of the city as a personal/editorial assistant for a wine business owner. My boss was wonderful but after the n-millionth time picking up office supplies and fetching coffee, I started to wonder if this was all a college degree was worth. On the weekends, I drank my share of wine. (Work-related research, of course!)

My second job landed me at a prestigious startup fellowship program that placed college graduates to work at startups in lower-cost cities. I was their first recruiter but was exposed to much more than recruiting. Event planning, social media, office politics – – with a small staff, there was a lot to get done and at times, my lack of corporate/organizational experience showed. I learned a few key things about organization, foremost being that I’m not organized. It’s why writing things down and having clear daily to-do lists have become new resolutions. The job took me to Providence over the summer for a phenomenal training camp which remains one of the best memories of the year, purely for the chance to meet 40 of the most inspiring and creative college graduates. I grew by leaps and bounds but after 5 months, I knew that this company wasn’t the right cultural fit.

Life since has been a mix of freelance writing, tech dabbling, user acquisition, and social media strategy. Highly stimulating work with little peace to be found. I networked, mingled, exchanged business cards, went social to the max.  The freelance/startup life taught me the importance of being disciplined with time. If you’re good at it, go superwoman! Bad at it, never sleep. We’ll see if I give in to 9-5 soon.

So, was 2012 a success? Last year I wrote, “If I can make just one tiny decision that moves me closer to being my best self-whatever that may entail, wherever that may be- that’s success in my flighty mind.2012 was to be the year forward.

And? Am I ahead, off track, 2 steps forward 3 steps back? Well, I can say that I’m officially a New Yorker and now part of the craziness I used to only admire from afar. I’ve spent far too much, slept far too little. I could have been wiser. And  yet at 23, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I end 2012 exhausted, knowing that I tire because I’ve tried my hand at many things, failed, and therefore, moved forward.

2013 – Focus

Notifications blew up my phone in 2012. While this gave me bursts of serotonin, it also lead to unhealthy crashes and reduced productivity. It’s resulted in my decision to disconnect and retire. When I say retire, I mean retiring from perpetual social grooming and focusing instead on real work.

Last week I deactivated Facebook, and yesterday I followed through with Instagram. A friend messaged me saying that he was astonished and a little sad that I was leaving all these social networks. To him, I was the epitome of Generation 2.0: Miss Popular with tons of friends, always connected and blogging and snapping photos. Reading this only reinforced my need to retire. My public image was so well-crafted. So well-crafted that sooner or later, people would be let down. Achieving a self-involved image is no small feat, and I don’t have the energy or desire to maintain it anymore.

Aside from ‘connecting’, I’ve started to realize that all the other stuff that comes with being ‘social’ serves more as a disutility that detracts from my day. Because when you peel away all the layers of perfectly timed and witty statements, cute outfits, and adventurous getaways, what’s left is a pretty plain and boring person too tired to do much of anything other than appear. The thought of being that lame person used to sadden me. Now it just excites me because it means more time to sleep. 2013 will be the year of focus and commitment. Take me as I am, just a lazy being who wants to lie in bed, eat, and watch TV.

In 2013, I plan to focus on building non-social digital skills (CRM, Creative Suite, Mailchimp), cooking more, and solidifying pre-existing relationships. It’s quite boring, but really just a continuance of my 2012 resolution, because only by getting serious will I ever be able to move forward.

I’ve always lived with a sense of urgency, a conviction that time is running out. But with the world ending tomorrow, it’s time to be really honest and live out our truest lives, not just what sounds good or what makes an interesting story. Because what makes us happiest may not be all that interesting. And that’s okay.

Moving In, 2012

Not for me. On New Years Day, I officially moved to New York. So far, it’s been a dream too good to be true; part of me is just waiting to wake up. Fortunately the Chrysler building proceeds to stare back from the window every morning.  For now, I’m still in a sweet sweet dream.


I came to the city last month for a job interview, though in reality I didn’t care much for the job . As fate would have it, they didn’t care much for me either.  I was then able to continue with my real reason for coming up: to learn more about the NY tech startup scene.

The great thing about the tech industry is that it lives online. Everything is open, connected, and completely accessible. Startup offices don’t have front desks or secretaries.  There is no barrier to entry.  If you really want, you can waltz right in to startup headquarters with no appointment, no affiliation, not even a suit or tie.  So that’s what I did.

I visited the offices of a few startups, including Grooveshark, Skillshare, and 33Across.  I attended a Foursquare talk. I talked with fellow free-lancers at co-working spaces like the New Work Community. I’ve been able to meet talented and forward-thinking people like filmmaker Jason Silva who are willing and kind enough to dish out helpful advice to a tech newbie like me.  Not coming from a tech background, I initially wasn’t sure what niche I could fill. My training has been in producing content, but all I have are a few bylines and reporting standups to my name, none of which are entirely relevant to a digital cutting-edge world.  Anyway, the question remains: “How do I stand out?”  The answer is still being drafted.


For the time being, I’ve found some part-time gigs to pay the bills and quench my entrepreneurial thirst.  I’m working as a personal and editorial assistant for the owner of a vintage wine shop in Harlem. While it’s slightly comical that I, of all people, am charged with organizing someone else’s life (if you looked at my room right now, you’d laugh), I actually think I’m suited for the job.  I flex my social media muscle, build online strategy, help write a wine column, and drink wine!  All while learning about the serious business of owning a local business. It’s completely different from academia, but I’m intrigued. It has since spurred my interest in learning about strategy behind some of the most successful small businesses.  Walk the streets of New York and there are so many examples of ingenious business brands.  Since I am charged with the task of ramping up social advertising/PR efforts for the store, I am using the city as my textbook.

In the meantime, the flexible nature of my work allows me to continue dabbling in other fields I want to experiment in, mainly:

– Videos/Film-making/Storytelling

– Networked Knowledge

– Emerging Technology

– Education

Eventually, all of these will converge.  Here’s to moving in, 2012.

My 2012 Theme Word: Forward.

Last year around this time, I dubbed 2011 the year of flight. I meant that in all positive respects. Literally, I wanted to take off and explore more of the world. Metaphorically, I wanted to escape my comfort zone. The overall goal was to not be bound to anything too familiar that limited my potential.

Well, I flew for sure. If 3 months romping around Europe teaching English to Italian kiddies and going broke doesn’t fulfill the free-spirited vow I made to myself, then maybe next time I’ll go to Tibet and become a monk.

What I learned while living out of a suitcase is that no matter how hard I try, I’m not a minimalist traveler. My oversized luggage will forever label me that girl with too much ‘baggage’. I’m pretty sure my suitcase caused me more trouble than even my lack of Italian with all the times I had to check that damn thing in ‘baggage deposit’.

More importantly, I spent a lot of time in 2011…lost. While navigating the streets of Europe, I constantly faced the question: zig or zag? With no smart phone to turn to, I was left with no other option but to zig and zag. 3 hours later, with the original destination still nowhere in sight, I settled for hidden gems in unknown territory. When you’re hungry, everything is delicious. You learn to enjoy the scenery regardless.

Back in the States, I did the same. I zigzagged between life paths. Zigging toward Teach for America one month, then deviating toward 30 Rock in pursuit of their page program, zagging toward a startup venture back in Gainesville, and finally jetting off to New York for what remains to be seen. I mulled over each prospect deeply, so deeply that I emerged out of the maze of my mind less sure about the original intent. And with a glorious headache.

2011 was the year of flight because I took off and jumped from city to city with no set direction. And honestly, that’s what I wanted. I neglected to build a mental map because I wanted the freedom to go without one. Also, I didn’t know where I wanted to go. But now I think I know.

For my 2012 theme word, I debated between words like intent, care, and focus. My thinking was that I once was a flighty bird, now it’s time to build a nest. Think of my intent. Handle everything with care.

But what am I? A nesting bird? There’s a time and place for everything. I don’t believe that 2012 calls for nesting, settling or more thinking. The biggest challenge now is to actually take the plunge. Move forward.

2011 was a year of zigs and zags, arrivals and departures, flights. Since May, I haven’t stayed in one place for more than a month before venturing elsewhere to try something new. I emerge out of the maze happy to have survived, but like a shaken up child just off a roller coaster, I realize now back on solid ground that I haven’t actually moved forward.

I’ll try to be realistic here. If I can make just one tiny decision that moves me closer to being my best self- whatever that entails, wherever that may be- that’s success in my flighty mind. 2012 is the year forward.

What’s your theme word for 2012?