Category Archives: Life Lessons

Happy National Pet’s Day Snickers!

In honor of National Pet’s Day today, I thought I’d share the story of how Snickers and I became a family.

I never had a cat for a pet growing up — growing up in a superstitious household, cats were always viewed as sneaky creatures that could bring bad luck. We always had dogs. I never had a chance to really get to know a cat growing up, so never really thought too much about them.

In 2005, my grandmother died. She was more than a grandma, she was my mom — my primary parent for pretty much all of my childhood. When she passed, I felt incredibly lonely. I hadn’t realized until after she passed away that I relied on her so much as a confidant, a beacon, a counselor… It was scary not being able to find comfort in anything. That’s when one of my coworkers (Ranika – if you’re out there, I can’t say thank you enough) told me about a nonprofit for homeless pets that she was supporting by fostering cats.

At first, I was like, “Cats? Ugh! No way”. But she convinced me to go with her to visit the animals and reserve judgment until I spent some time with the kitties. So I went and that’s where I met Snickers. At the time, he was a wee kitten and still needed a bottle to eat. He was in a bag with three others and as soon as he saw me, he jumped right on to my shoulders. It was love at first sight.

Through the years, Snicky Snack has brought love and comfort to both me and my close family members that were equally suffering from the loss of my grandmother. All of the superstitious, anti-cat mantras completely vanished the moment everyone met him (even my uncle who is a sworn dog person loved to wrestle with Snicks and let him bite his callous hands). I don’t know if Snickers saved us from our grief, perhaps we saved ourselves. But what I do know is he reminded us about the importance of life moving on and when it feels like life can’t go on, it’s okay to snuggle with a cute cat until those feelings pass.

Thanks Snickers, Snicks, Snicky Snack, The Pie for being the most adorable, moody, hungry, impatient, talkative, nonchalant, did I mention adorable (??) cat a girl could ask for. I love you.

The Road not Taken By Robert Frost

Though that year of High School English was by far the most painful to understand — thanks to Frost, Hemingway, Thoreau, Dickinson, Emerson, etc. — this poem continues to hold a very special meaning for me…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

RIP Whitney Houston

I don’t know why the loss of Whitney Houston hit me so hard. Don’t get me wrong, it is always sad when someone dies young. But the news of her passing somehow hit me like a ton of bricks. I still remember, like it was yesterday, my grandmother taking me to the movie theater  to see The Bodyguard. I was 10 years old, and was lucky that day because my grandmother could not find a babysitter so I got to go see my first Rated R movie. In that dark room, for the very first time, a song, a beautiful voice gave me goose bumps.

I went home and borrowed the cassette tapes from all of my friends (who probably stole them from their parents) and I listened to Whitney Houston songs over and over again. I sang out loud tell my belly ached. Rarely are there people who can touch your life yet never meet you in person. Whitney Houston was one of those people for me.

Momma Whitney, you will be missed.

I Believe In You and Me 

I believe in you and me
I believe that we will be
In love eternally
Well as far as I can see
You will always be the one…
For me
Oh yes you will

And I believe in dreams again
I believe that love will never end
And like the river finds the sea
I Was lost, now I’m free
Cuz I believe in you and me

I will never leave your side
I will never hurt your pride
When all the chips are down Baby
Said I will always be around
Just to be right where you are
My love
You know I love you, boy

I will never leave you out
I will always let you in boy
To places no one’s ever been
Deep inside, can’t you see
That I believe in you and me

Maybe I’m a fool
To feel the way I do
But I will play the fool forever
Just to be with you forever

I believe in miracles
And Our love’s a miracle
And yes, baby you’re my dream come true
I was lost, now I’m free (oOh Baby)
Cuz I believe
I believe in you and me
See I was lost, now I’m free
I believe in you and me

What I am Thankful For

I am still recovering from my wonderful Thanksgiving break. I hope you all enjoyed your turkeys… I spent the long holiday weekend in Chicago with some of my absolute favorite people in the world — my best friends from high school (I refuse to say how long ago that was).

Not only did the ladies, who never cook (myself included),  kick the boys out the kitchen and put together a phenomenal full course holiday meal, which includes a yummy 13lb turkey with all of the fixin’s (I am literally still beaming with pride at our skill and tenacity!), but I also had the opportunity to catch up with two of my closet gal pals.

With the stress of work really overwhelming me these days, I’ve fallen out of touch with some of the people I love most in the world. My besties and I literally sat on the floor of my friend’s walk-in closet until 4am talking about what has been going on in our lives, we then spent another full day drinking wine (way too much wine) and watching a full season of Dexter On Demand (great show by the way, that I will cover in another blog).

I started my week today feeling like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, like I got some therapy that was long overdue. It reminded me of an important lesson that I often times forget — no matter how much work and day-to-day life can get in the way, your love ones are those who will get you through. I needed that reminder. I love you girls.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

In the beginning, I will admit, I was hesitant to read this book. Mostly because last year I read a book about women in Iraq and cried like a baby every other page. Given the amount of stress I am under at work at the moment (approximately a shit-ton), I kept thinking that something too emotional right now just would not be helpful for the mental state.

I am so glad I went ahead and cracked it open. Yes, this is a story about women in Afghanistan during Taliban rule and yes their situation was at times quite bleak, but it is the most uplifting and inspiring story I have read in a very long time. The protagonist, Kamila Sidiqi, is a brave woman who took incredible risks to ensure her family and community held together in some of the toughest times in her country’s history. What is most remarkable is her ambition to grow and build her family’s dressmaking business; she was not afraid to push for more clients and help more people, even when it was dangerous for her to do so. The part of the story that is truly mind blowing is that The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is about women entrepreneurs. WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS in AFGHANISTAN! Women not only focused on working in nonprofit or government-relief initiatives to improve their circumstances, but using the principles of business to create sustainable solutions for their families, communities and country. It is true that once all the foreign soldiers have left the country, it will be up to the Afghan people to build a sustainable economy that will support any real goals for democracy and equality. Kamila’s story addresses this challenge in a profound way.

I must confess, with the exception of the book I read last year and the occasional article I browse in NYT, I have not devoted a great deal of time to understanding what is happening in the Middle East. It’s sad, but true. The wars America has waged in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on for so long that I think, in order to cope and move forward, many Americans have taken a similar approach. But crisis fatigue is not a good enough excuse for turning our backs on what is happening to others. A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (thanks MLK). I am guilty of taking for granted the fact that I am a free woman who has a business education and can go to work and make money to support my family without fear of violence or arrest.

I think most Americans wish the war would end because we want our troops home or because it’s taken a toll on the American economy. I would agree that these points are reasonable, but despite these reasons, there are people whose freedom depends on our protection. Our troops deserve to come home to their families and lives but the solution to up and walkaway feels like a dangerous proposition. It’s a catch 22.

While withdrawal plans continue to be a work in progress, and the future of the Middle East continues to hang in the balance, Kamila’s story reminds me that my shit-ton of stress is really minuscule and that I really need to get over myself. If she can stand up in her world, then so can I in mine.

Before I Die…

This past weekend, while out running errands, I came across an interesting project happening in downtown Brooklyn. There is some construction for the new Shake Shack (yay!) on Fulton Street Mall and the site is covered with a giant chalkboard where people have expressed the things they want to do, the places they want to see, the people they want to impact before they die.

The idea stuck with me all weekend, and to be honest, I still haven’t been able to complete the sentence in a way that truly sums it up for me. but maybe that’s the point..

Some of the entries were funny, some heartfelt. Before I die I want to… have a child, marry Vicky, dance with Beyonce, visit Mecca, have fun, Skydive, Occupy Wall Street, Live!!!

I Googled “Before I Die” and learned this project is being championed by Candy Chang — you can check out more details of the project and get a Before I Die toolkit for your community from the artist’s site: http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/

The World According to Americans

Last night over dinner, my fiance told me a story one of his Brazilian classmates told him — his classmate’s dad went to graduate business school in the 70’s at UCLA. His classmates would ask him about Brazil and one of the most common questions was whether when he looked out his window at home did he see monkeys in the trees. I guess because every Brazilian lives in the jungle…

This was the 70’s, so we should all hope we’ve gotten better, improved our global perspective. We should hope.