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Fuck it. Ship it.

I have a confession. Most of my life I have spent leaning into the things I am awesome at and looking like a rockstar. If I wasn’t good at it, I just didn’t do it. But there was this way that I felt like a fraud and totally unsatisfied on a deeper level. I want to live a life that stretches me to the edges of my capacity and beyond. Founding a startup is the best way I have found so far.

I have not been writing for fear of being judged or my admissions being used against me somewhere down the road. I am tired of hiding. I have been in denial that I am actually doing this and it is time I start sharing it. There is so much emphasis on outcome, but this path is really about the journey. For those of us walking it, it is really nice to know we are not alone.

Goodbyes

Other than my native New York, I have never lived  anywhere as long as I have lived in Hong Kong. I have traveled extensively and have spent weeks places, even months, but never the nearly four years I have been there.

Hong Kong is really far from New York. I know all about airplane travel and Skype and of course Twitter and Facebook, but I also know that my relationships at home have suffered the distance of these years abroad. However, I am going home and I will pick most of them up where I left off.  When you go home it always feels like you were there just yesterday.  When I decided to go to Hong Kong for a professional opportunity it was a quick and easy decision, but it was never my intention to stay there permanently. I always knew I would go home.

Leaving Hong Kong was a much bigger decision. It is a much bigger move. And saying goodbye was also saying goodbye to this period time in my life, looking back and saying “Thanks for the memories.”.

In the same breath I am happy and excited for something new but I am also acutely aware of the things I will miss. I was planning a sarcastic blog about the things I can’t stand about Hong Kong ( oh let me get in a few) like  the way people walk – no crash- into you on the street,  the way people assault that door close button in the elevator just as you are about to get in, and of course let’s not forget the worsening air pollution situation.

What I realized during my final days however, was that I didn’t want to focus on that. I started to think about the things I really would miss. Perhaps not so surprisingly they were mostly the little things. So little I almost took them for granted daily, but when I was leaving my eyes have opened a little wider to the world around me to really ‘see’.  I will miss the little Ginger cat that sits on a leash at the local restaurant by my flat.

My morning ritual was to pet this kitty on the corner...

I will miss the sweet baristas at Starbuck’s who all know what I order.  I don’t even have to ask. I will miss the very fact of being an expat.

Unforgettable...

And I will miss the buzz and excitement that is Asia. Most of all I will miss some very special people that have shaped my life over the past four years. I said to my friend tonight that I hate saying goodbye, and she said “so say see ya later.”  So “see ya later” Hong Kong and thanks for the memories.

To Live & Die By Social Media

I like many people can be found on a myriad of social networks.  We all use these networks for different things: to give, receive, share.  I virtually live on Twitter. I remember when I started living on Facebook.  It was the place to “find me” if you needed me – (Mom).  Yes, when I moved to another country with a twelve hour time difference, I found it difficult to keep in touch with good friends and family via “email” – as if it were some ancient form of inconvenient communication or the phone.  Facebook was great.  One status to my 800 and something friends and BAM!, everyone knew everything.  (I am still a Facebook purist by the way – I actually know them all.)  I have friends who joined Facebook specifically to keep in touch with me.  I put my parents on it.  Convenient. All my contact details, my travel schedule, where to find me. Or so I thought.

Well, these days, I am on Twitter.  Facebook too, but if you need me and you need me now, Twitter is the way to go.  People that know me well know to DM (direct message) me if they want my attention.  I felt that way until I was in California on a business trip recently.  I had my Hong Kong phone off and only gave my US number to my parents and the people I needed to speak to in the US.  I woke up to someone knocking on my door at the crack of dawn, as it turns out not looking for me.  Frustrated I was woken I opened my laptop, loaded Tweetdeck and in the DM column among a bunch of Spam and Auto welcome DMs was:

“The Memorial Service for Steve is Sunday at 1″.

I’ll pause while you take that in.

What? Memorial Service? What do you mean “Memorial Service”???? This was the first I was hearing that my dear friend had even passed away.  I had to deduce it from those brief words.  No one knew how to get a hold of me, and the person who sent the tweet assumed I knew.  Through a Tweet. I found out my friend died through a Tweet. The more insane thing is to confirm he had in fact passed away I had to go to his Facebook page.  I had no one’s phone number to call to find out what had happened until a mutual friend messaged her phone number.  There were already messages of condolence posted on his page.  I sat there alone in my hotel room and cried at my computer screen.  No social network could possibly replace the voice or hug of a friend that I wish I had at that moment.

This experience isn’t going to make me change the way I communicate, but perhaps reflect how I want to be communicated with. It is just one of those situations that makes you take a step back and ask, “I know I’m approachable, but am I accessible to the people in my life that matter?”

Carpe Diem

We all have regrets.  Don’t lie.  You know you have at least one.  Hopefully they aren’t too heavy.  Whether it was eating that second donut; not marrying that girl; not taking that job on the other side of the world; staying out too late when you have a big presentation the next day. Whatever.  Don’t regret missing opportunities that your gut told you that you should go for.

Today I was on the plane to LA and walking past me on the plane was Jack Canfield. Yes, he flies Spirit airlines too.  I didn’t even have to double take.  I was excited and thought immediately of the Laws of Attraction that he and his co-contributors from the Secret talked about.  Would he approve of me saying hello after the flight?  Of course he would!  We are all people.  Here was an opportunity to meet an incredible man.  This encounter could change my life.  Who knows? The point is, I wasn’t going to take the risk in not finding out.

Jack was great! He greeted me warmly and we chatted while we got our bags.  We talked of my travels and his, Chicken Soup for the Soul and social media.  We exchanged cards.  Who knows what will come of it.

He didn’t need to be Jack Canfield or someone famous.  It could have been someone I just felt I needed to talk to.  The point is, don’t look back and think, “I should have”.  Go for it.

Funny enough that was almost the end of the blog until I sat next to Brandy on the flight from LA to NY.  We talked about the difference between the mind’s decisions and a “gut” feeling.  She commented that gut is a “knowing” and then she said, “Your gut is God”.  I like that.

Keeping it in Perspective….

There are many things in life that we encounter that seem overwhelming, difficult or important at the time.  Then you come across a situation that puts it all in perspective for you and watch how others handle that situation with awe inspiring grace and it makes all your worries seem petty and insignificant.

I had such an experience today.  Flying back to the states for the first time in a year in not the best of health on not the most of luxurious of airlines I was in a moaning mood at best.  I first noticed this family of four children at the gate while talking to a fellow American I had picked up as a travel buddy on the last leg of the flight.

The little girl, not yet even a year and a half I would later learn, was crying non-stop and was being coddled by what we discussed had to be her grandmother.  I couldn’t help look around for the mother. Our conversation about this family led us to discuss how it must be so difficult to travel with four little ones in tow.  I said hello to the crying girl and she was curious enough to stop crying for a minute to smile.  Then they disappeared onto the plane.

For the first couple of hours you could hear this little girl crying and crying.  When I got up to go to the bathroom I passed the grandmother holding her and I stopped to rub her back and say hello again.  I asked her if she was tired from traveling,  The grandmother told me that their mother had died suddenly last Saturday from a heart attack.  Just died.  Collapsed and died.  No warning.  No pre-existing condition.  A mother of four, a YOUNG mother of four, and a young wife, poof – just gone.  It floored me.

A little later when passing them again I was speaking with the husband, now a surviving father of four children. His parents and her parents had flown all the way to Shanghai to help him with the trip back to the States for his wife’s funeral.  He was amazed at all the support that was there for him and how much strength he and his older two girls had found.  Their composure was incredible.  I couldn’t help but talk to him and think about their future and about what they had just been through.  He said they felt an outpouring of support from both loved ones and strangers.  The eight and five year old understood their mom had died, while the three-year-old boy understood she wasn’t there and the one and a half year old just didn’t really understand at all.

I saw them from a distance one last time after I got my bags. The five year-old tugged at her father pointing at the carousel, “Isn’t that Mommy’s luggage Daddy?”. Holding the little one, he stroked her head, “Yes honey, that’s Mommy’s luggage.”



5 Reasons You Should Tweet at the Rugby Sevens #hksevens

Ok – so you’ve heard of Twitter. Maybe you have even signed up for a Twitter account.  Maybe you are still scratching your head trying to figure out what to do with it. Well, even if you aren’t interested in Twitter on a daily basis, an event can be a great way to have fun with it.  The Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong this weekend may just be the perfect time to try your hand at the micro-blogging social media tool.  Just go to Twitter.com, sign up for an account, download a simple app for your iPhone like Tweetie2 or ubertwitter for your blackberry. You are now ready to start tweeting!  Here are some reasons why you should give it a try!

1) It  is a way for all your friends who couldn’t get tickets to the  Rugby Sevens to enjoy the fun!

See there are these things called hastags on twitter which are number signs – # – and when you put that in front of a word like #hksevens or #southstands and then search by that on twitter you can see all the other things everyone is saying.  So your buddy at home or stuck outside the gate can read that you just poored pint over poor Billy’s head and that Katie thinks the NZ team looks hot in their uniforms.   You can even tell poor Joe at the pub watching you miss him.

2)   Make new friends.  You may find yourself chatting with someone across the #southstands and have the ability to meet up with the Pimms stand.  Twitter can be easier than SMS in many cases because you can group in more than one person.

3)   Become a Sportscaster! Tweet out the action on the field!  Recording the event for posterity can be fun and when a lot of people are doing it from multiple perspectives and angles it is great.  Remember when sports radio started?  Sports Twitter anyone?

4)   Put Hong Kong on the map – on Twitter!  This is a massive world sports event and it would be AWESOME to see #hksevens as a trending topic!!! What does that mean?  It means that the more people that are at the sevens talking about the sevens the greater the chance for the buzz to get big enough to make it a top talked about topic.

5)   The number one reason to be on Twitter for the Rugby Sevens – the fantastic Twitpic opportunities in the #southstands! What could be more fun than iPhone’s snapping up fun photos of your friends in their most embarrassing outfits only for them to zoom across the Internet at warp speed? Snap – Tweet – Retweet and off it goes!

Since you will be so drunk you won’t remember the event itself, you can go back to Twitter, search #hksevens and see what happened afterwards!

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work & What to Do Instead

How many times have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? Every year since you were 15? Let me guess, it is usually to stop doing something or to start doing something that under usual circumstances you have a really difficult time doing.  Ah, and New Year’s rolls around, a fresh start, a perfect time to make that ginormous change in our lives right!  Wrong. Large drastic changes actually don’t work for most people.  They usually last for a week or two, a month maybe.  Gym membership sales soar post New Year’s with the resolutions to get into shape.  People quit, smoking, drinking, vow to eat better, the list goes on.

Do these look familiar?

Reasons Why Resolutions Don’t Work

1. Resolutions Are Usually Set in the Negative Voice – it isn’t always the case, but many of us set resolutions that involve “stopping” something or “giving something up”.  That is a recipe for failure right there.  While we may want to stop, we are not sending out the right energy.  We are sending out a regretful, “darn I need to stop this now” energy.  Solution: Think about your goals in a positive light. How can you phrase them in a way that resonates positively with the direction you are headed.  It should feel good when you say it out loud and make you want to smile.

2. Drastic Cold Turkey Changes Are Hard to Make Last - there is a brilliant quote by Robin Sharma – “Small daily changes over time lead to staggering results.”  Read that again.  “Small daily changes over TIME lead to staggering results.”  Ok, so what does that mean?  You don’t have to be Jane Fonda on January 1st. In fact if you try to be, you probably won’t succeed.  When most people fall off their resolution wagon they throw in the towel. Solution: Think about the year ahead.  Pick a few areas of life where you would like to see improvement.  This is a serious exercise, and takes work, but it is your life.  Then start really small.  What can you do today? Tomorrow? Next week? Don’t overwhelm yourself. Imagine yourself as the person you want to be a year from now.  Do the small things and stay the course.

3.  We Forget About New Years – most people just think about New Year’s resolutions once a year, but if you are really determined to make changes in your life you have to constantly check back to the blueprint you set out for yourself of what it is that you are working toward and where you are headed.  Are you still on course?  Solution: Write down those things that you decided to work on broadly and the ways in which you think you can throughout the year.  It is a good idea to revisit the list once a month and check in.  It is a nice thing to do with a friend, relative or partner so that you can support one another.  Monitor your progress.  Are you achieving your goals?  Do you need to change direction? Do you need additional support?

If you are not achieving your goals, ask yourself where your mindset is and how it could be stopping you.

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”  I love that quote.  Stay clear on your vision for the life you want and have a Happy New Year.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over…It became a butterfly”

with love

be the butterfly

5 Ways to Do Good Via Twitter

People who aren’t on Twitter ask me all the time why I love it so much. There are a million and one reasons really, but one in particular is the unbelievable global community I have seen grow around doing good for good’s sake.

The campaigns, the retweeting, the fundraising, the Twestivals, the #LOVE. The good news is it isn’t all virtual. Lives are actually being changed. Not all through Twitter alone clearly, but awareness and spreading the word is a huge part of what many organizations need to achieve their goals.

Every action each person takes helps.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Read the full post on Penn Olson

Message In A Bottle

Sometimes you see something come at you over and over and over and you think, “Ok already! I get the message, I am listening!”. Whether you believe in Source, God or that we are in a big snow globe being shaken by a troll, the idea that there are messages in the things we see in our everyday life put there by a greater force is not a new concept.  I am sure there is some fancy-schmancy neuroscience chemical explanation someone has for my comment box, but I would like to go with my theory on messages – mostly – because they are cool, coincidental, and just come at the right time.

What messages are waiting for you?

What messages are waiting for you?

Resilience is the message I have been receiving all day today.  What a wonderful word.  RESILIENCE.  Per dictionary.com: 1)The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. Or 2) the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; bouyancy. Such a powerful word.  It says so much.  It speaks to me on so many levels.

I saw a beautiful quote in an article today: “Resilient people are like trees bending in the wind. They bounce back.”

Then yet another article came my way, 30 Profiles of Resilience in Business.  The first story however, of a woman who was a successful overachiever who ended up disabled and at ground zero in back in her parents house at age 35 really hit a nerve.  It scared me.  It moved me.  But most of all it inspired me.  So much of our life is how we choose to experience something, how we choose to look at it.  There are so many lessons to be learned by reading other people’s stories.

Perhaps it is a reminder to me that I have to bend with the wind and that I do in fact have the inner strength and the resources surrounding me to “bounce back” from the challenges I face.

Perhaps it is so I can put the message out to pass it on to remind others that they too have the strength to carry on.

Either way.  It was a message loud and clear. I have received it. And I am sending it on its way.

Top 5 Things About Having Piggy Flu*

So I have watched as this virus zoomed around the world starting out in Mexico, quickly making its way to NYC while I was there in April.  I rode the subways and went about my business while watching the WHO freak out on TV.  I then hopped a plane back to Hong Kong in May where it soon followed me.  I went to China and had my temperature checked.  They actually took a little “doo-dad” (that’s a technical term) to my forehead after I waited on line for an hour and marked a piece of paper that I was fine.  Ironically, it was only those in the “Visitors” line that were having their temperature checked.  I guess they figured that mainland Chinese folk coming from the exact same place I just was couldn’t possibly be at risk to the same virus they were checking the foreigners for.  Some natural built in immunity or secret Tamiflu shot the rest of the world wasn’t aware of yet?  Duh? 

Then the whole thing got out of control and then everyone and his mother had swine flu and authorities stopped checking for it and it really didn’t matter because more people die of the regular flu anyhow.  I am by no means an authority on this nor are any of my statements fact checked – just as an aside.  I am currently lying in bed with this piggy virus and have somehow, though I have a backlog of blogs because I have been moving, reorganizing my business and various other bits, being home in bed I am inspired to write about it.  Maybe because I like to call it the piggy flu. Maybe because I just like the word piggy. Maybe because I have taken so much cough syrup, and have a fever, I am a little out of it at the moment.  Regardless – I hope you enjoy

We’re going to do this David Letterman style. Top 5 Things About Having Piggy Flu (sorry – there  just aren’t 10)

5) Chicken soup for the soul diet.  I think that I will eat/drink enough chicken soup to last me until the next flu and I feel the pounds shedding off me as I type.

4) Getting to spend quality time with the pets.  I am usually so busy, I don’t have time to lay in bed with my kitties all day.  It is truly amazing to me however sleeping the majority of the day how much they do actually sleep!  No wonder they are  so over weight!

3) Cough syrup with codeine.  Yeah baby.  The stuff just….Oops sorry – passed out while I was typing.  See it just has that kind of an effect on you!  When you are hacking up a lung or two, the least you can hope for is something that allows you to sleep peacefully.

2) Quarantine.  Though mostly self imposed – the doc did say I shouldn’t really leave my house for another 3 days (total of 6).  It is nice to have some alone time, I must admit.  Great for catching up on DVDs, sleep, DVDs, sleep – did I mention DVDs and sleep?  Visitors aren’t too keen, but I get a few deliveries.  But when you have to go get supplies from the corner 7-Eleven (that is as far as I go), we have….    

Miss Piggy - Swine Flu or Bank Robber?

Miss Piggy - Swine Flu or Bank Robber?

 

 

1)A hot new fashion accessory!  The surgical mask!  The light blue, fuzzy textured kind with elastic white straps to fit Dumbo’s ears or mine.  Oh, because when you are hacking and wheezing and it is 90 degrees and humid and trying to walk down the street, having a mask over your face makes it so much easier to uh…breathe!?  I wore one today and looked like a bank robber.  People in Hong Kong, rightly so after SARS,  get very skittish when you cough or sneeze or do any kind of germ sharing behavior.  I thought  today they should be scared I might ask for their wallet.  

So if you should come down with this increasingly more common flu strain, not to worry, look on the bright side.  In addition to the fever, chills, aches, headache, coughing, hacking, sneezing and other normal flu symptoms – you have these to look forward to!  

Please entertain me with your comments.  I still have 3 days of DVDs, sleeping, cats and chicken soup left. :)

 

*Please note this is in no way meant to be insensitive to those who have a serious strain of this virus.  Clearly for some this is a serious disease and can be fatal and should be taken seriously and if you suspect you have this disease and suffer from other serious medical conditions, you should consult your doctor immediately.