That's a taste of what this was.
Work with Flynnside Out and the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island brought me out to NY for 2 weeks initially (see more about our incredible work here), then I decided to return for the Designer Showcase Gala honoring all of the RMHLI designers and stay a few days beyond my work needs for a lonnng overdue (and much deserved!) vacation.
Sweet, rockstar Jeana
My vacation agenda?
Roam the city.
Rendezvous with friends.
Meet with a few business contacts.
Do a smidge of sightseeing.
Blow air kisses to my beautiful godson.
Reclaim the city as my own.
And most importantly, to just to be in the moment everyday, soaking in every minute of my trip.
I rented an apartment on AirBNB (my first time using the site) and had a fantastic experience (I can't say enough good things about the site)!!
It was a smaller, 3-room studio apartment in Times Square which, despite all of the chaos of tourist traffic, made it super easy to connect to any subway line I needed. And the true benefit to staying in an apartment, especially on a trip like this, is that it felt like home and gave me a hint of what it would be like if I lived in NYC. Lugging your ridiculously heavy luggage up the steps of a steep, 3 story walk up and traipsing around a 500 sq ft apartment with bathroom so tiny that the front of the toilet barely missed kissing the bathtub??
Now that's an experience that you can't get in a boutique hotel (and I loved every.single.minute)!
If you follow me on Instagram (and you should do that), you know that in the days before I left, I took time to set my intentions DAILY about what I wanted my trip to be, how I wanted to show up for others, and what I wanted to feel while I was traveling...and I was determined to get what I intended in my heart, despite the fact that rain was threatening to dampen my entire trip. I arrived to the rental car counter (needed a car for Long Island), only to meet the most charming Sales Manager who fell in love with my name and promptly upgraded my ridiculously inexpensive rental to the most expensive car on the lot with no change in price. Let me keep the car for longer than my initial reservation and waived all late fees associated with my last minute date change.
And while I had effectively set the tone for my trip prior to leaving, I knew this was a sign of great things to come.
This trip was important to me for so many reasons, many of which didn't hit me until I got ready to leave.
I'm 35 years old, and this is the first vacation I've ever taken by myself.
Even though I have friends and family in the city, I intentionally stayed by myself so I could have time to be alone and move according to my own schedule. I didn't want to shop with friends, or club all night long, I just wanted to reclaim the city as my own & make new memories...venture out at the drop of the dime and navigate the subway on my own (for the first time, ever).
NY has always been bittersweet for me, because--though I'm originally from the city--I've always associated it with my father, having spent my younger years there visiting him. The man who used to put me in his lap and let me drive the car down empty cobblestone streets in our neighborhood (loonnngggg before it became known as the Meatpacking District), made me listen to classical music & Charles Kuralt on Sunday mornings and taught me the proper way to eat a NYC hot dog (spicy mustard, extra onions).
He passed away 7 years ago but I've always felt his energy the strongest there and while I've always loved New York, it's also made me a bit sad because I wish he were here to see who I've become--I think he'd be very proud. So it was good to be in NY and make new memories for myself, and odd as it may sound, it felt like my father was next to me the whole time whispering in my ear,
"This city is yours now...make it your own."
And so that's what I did.
In all of my solitary time walking through neighborhoods streets and cafe pit stops to write audacious plans in my moleskine, I was reminded that I have so much to celebrate! Here are the facts:
I'm relatively healthy.
I'm single with no crazy baggage.
I don't have any kids.
I own my own business.
I have the ability to create value ANYwhere.
I have a really, really good life that I love.
(I'm also very intelligent and pretty hot, but we'll leave that off the list for now.)
Kellan, my super delicious godson who is too quick to ever get an in-focus photo!
And there's nothing holding me back...from anything I want to do.
I had an opportunity to spend a good amount of time in my old neighborhood and I felt the most intense feeling of gratitude for my life...and incredible sense of luck to have been given the parents that I have. It reminded me that my life is so much bigger than Atlanta, and while I've created something here that I'm so deeply proud of, my story is not confined to this city.
There is nothing holding me back from exploring the world....and in all of these last few years of building my business, I think I had forgotten that. But now that I've been reminded, I know I want more.
So while I went to NYC with thoughts of what I wanted to give to the people that I came in contact with, it turns out that the city gave ME the most important gift of all--a chance to reflect on my life, learn myself in a new way and expand my thoughts on what's truly possible for my journey.
And in a nutshell, this is how a 2 hour flight and an itty bitty vacation can change your life....because somehow, someway, it absolutely changed mine.
"Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."
(Luke 6:38, NLT)