fifteen ways nyc teaches me how to live

fifteen years ago today, i was a mere 26 years old.

i worked as a special education teacher in asheville, north carolina. i was married to my ex-husband. and i had just been offered a job at a church in a nearby small mountain town. it was a job that i desperately wanted, knowing that, even though it was in a small, rural town, it would open up so many possibilities + opportunities for me.

and there was so much that i wanted to do.

i wanted to go to graduate school to study theology. i wanted to explore the world. i wanted live as an expat. i wanted learn about other cultures, help people, and, honestly,  i wanted a life that didn’t look like everyone else’s. i didn’t want to follow the regular old expected path that seemed to be waiting for me. i needed to take the road less travelled.

oh yes, i had big dreams, but it would take me about 7 more years to find the courage to dare to begin to live them.

i have learned in these past 15 years that life unfolds mysteriously. it will not make sense. it will hurt. it will be glorious. there will be adventure – both planned + unplanned. the first 7 years, i spent trying to make myself happy with the life that i had. i really, really tried. and then, it all changed. well, i changed it all. so, the last 8 years, i’ve been slowly, intentionally creating the life that i want to live. am i there yet? oh, no. but, i am on my way.

and, perhaps 9/11 and nyc had a little bit to do with me finding the courage that i needed to pursue the life that i truly, deeply wanted. 

fifteen years ago, as i stood in my classroom with my students, watching the horror unfold on our tv screens, seeing planes crash, people jump, and buildings fall, i remember knowing that everything had changed. i didn’t know how, but somehow the world would be different. even i would be different. i could feel it.

and now, i can barely remember a life before 9/11. terrorism and violence and fear have become the norm. and that pisses me off. but, what it also makes me is more defiant. not in the sense that i want to fight back. i am a pacifist through + through. what i want to do is do the opposite of what terror tries to do to us. i want to live life even more. i am determined to be aware of the fear, to remain as knowledgable as i can about world affairs, and then, in response to the fear + violence and hatred and judgment, to live with more love. more fearlessness. more bravery. more courage. to take control + live my life exactly as i want it.

 because this life short. so we’d better dig deep + find that courage if we we want to live life to the fullest.

i want to embrace this fleeting life even more. i want to dare to discover beauty instead of focusing on negativity. and to lift up instead of tear down. i want to build bridges and become even more open + accepting than ever before, instead of putting up walls and deepening divisions.  i want to create and observe. and i want to be truly present, enjoying life and pursing the things that make my life authentic and true.

so, today, on this 15th anniversary of september 11th, 2001, i want to remember by celebrating. 

there is so much freaking amazingness in this world. so much inspiration. even in the midst of all of the pain + suffering. and there is so much that we, as a global community + as individual global citizens need to do for each other to bring about justice, equality and peace. but, we can only do that when we focus on what is good, when we dig deep and unite in our similarities, when we listen and hear and talk with each other.

we can only more forward if we start by seeing what works, and then start from there. together.

so, today, i am celebrating life by celebrating new york city. yes, 9/11 affected us all. some more directly than others. and our world is a different place now. every city + every country, has been changed. i do recognize + celebrate the quirky uniqueness and importance of all cities + countries.

but, for today, i want to focus on nyc. a city that is vibrant with life. a city that, in itself, embodies possibilities, dreams, and inspiration. and it is a city that inspires me in very specific ways. new york, for me, symbolizes what’s right with the world. oh, it’s not perfect. but, for me, nyc, more than any other place i’ve been so far, touches my soul in a very special way.

it is a city that reminds me me how i want to live.

so, here are 15 different life lessons that the spirit of new york city has taught me.

→ live in the moment.

me NYC manhattan

→ create things.

→ express yourself.

→ think big. dream big

williamsburg bridge

→ pause and breathe. find your sanctuary.

nyc washington square park

→ remember your history.


→ art is everywhere.

→ diversity is a gift.

airbnb van

→ you mean everything.

→ you mean nothing.

nyc east river skyline

→ find your own rhythm.

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→ look up + notice it all.

nyc architecture

→ live with wonder + awe.

nyc skyline

→ community saves.

nyc cafe

→ feel the energy. soak up the vibe.

williamsberg sunset

may we all live with the spirit of nyc – the spirit of life – each + every day. peace to you all. namaste.

xoxo. liz.

6 thoughts on “fifteen ways nyc teaches me how to live

  1. I want to tell you how much it mean to me to read your blog and listen to your blog post. You and Lina are my kind of people. I love that you share your life online. As I was reading this and got a small glimpse of your life before the life you had now, I was thinking how much I’d love to read a biography or memoir about your life, especially from the point of college and onward. Even if you just emailed me or messaged me on FB, I’d love to read it. Best wishes always! hugs*

    1. Hi Tracy! Wow! That’s so kind of you to say – I am so glad you enjoy all of my ramblings and such. And, you know, I’ve been slowly working on a memoir for about a year now. There’s a lot more to write, but I’m getting there. It’ll be out one day! 🙂 Lots of love to you!

  2. What a touching tribute to NYC, life, and perseverance. And the little glimpse into your past was so intriguing Liz! Are you planning on sharing more?

    1. Thanks, dear friend. I do love NYC!! Hee hee! I love that you love my little blast from the past! And, yes, I am! In fact, I am slowly working on a memoir! 🙂

    1. Hi! Hehe! My feet were sooooo hot right then, so I just had to step in the puddles. What relief!! And, yes, when I am in NYC, I actually feel both ways – like I am so unique and important, and that I am so minuscule and only one little person on this earth. It’s a very humbling feeling!

      Hope you are well!

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