Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MOJO Mission: Parktivity

When I first created this blog, part of the vision was to share and promote great things being done out in the world through a little thing I call The MOJO Mission.

I'm very excited and very proud to introduce Parktivity to the MOJO mission stage!

It's not just a cool name, it's a nonprofit organization created less than a year ago by my good friend Emerson Sarmiento.

Emerson and I met in a leadership program last fall. The core component of the class was for each student to create a project in their community.

"Community project" was a loose term that really meant anywhere outside of yourself and anything from cleaning your garage to creating a nonprofit from scratch.

Emerson chose the latter.

He told me all about growing up in the Philippines with no parks or recreational areas to play in.

He described a concrete landscape without basketball courts or baseball fields, or places to play without cars passing by.

There were simply no public parks where kids could run around and... well... be kids.

There were no jungle gyms where parents could sit and watch their kids climb the monkey bars or fly down the slide.

Emerson's mission was clear - to bring playgrounds to his home town, and to underprivileged areas around the world.

Several months, endless work hours, and one team of relentlessly passionate people later, Parktivity was officially born.

I literally can't imagine what life would be like if I hadn't spent my youth playing softball on countless local fields.

I can't imagine what it would be like going to elementary school without the jungle gym in the courtyard, or summer camp without fields for kickball, soccer, and colorwar.

Imagine every memory you have playing on a playground as a kid. Now imagine a life without them.

Parktivity's mission is to build neighborhood playgrounds so that kids everywhere can live out the true spirit of being young and having fun. They also want to foster creativity beyond the playground by building volunteer-based programs around sports, art, and dance. Amazing!

The goal of Parktivity parks is keep kids at the playground and off the streets by giving them a place to do what all kids are meant to do... play!

Check out Parktivity's cool video snippet below and come out next Thursday for Parktivity's official launch party!! Get your tickets here.

The event will be held at Knoll Studio in the Google Building... that's in the meatpacking district, so wear your fancy pants and be prepared to eat, drink, and be inspired! 

It'll definitely be an amazing event, but if you can't make it you can also support the cause by purchasing a raffle or simply donating

Friday, May 25, 2012

TGIF Top 5!

A quick and easy way to "pump up" before the long awaited holiday weekend - and I'm not talking last minute push ups and baby oil - is to think of 5 things you're grateful for right now.

You may already be thankful, but when you actually bring your attention to that emotion, your brain chemistry, mood, and perspective align.

To practice what I preach, off the cuff, here are the top 5 things I am grateful for right now:

1- I'm grateful I averted disaster on my last trip to the bathroom when my phone fell out of my pocket and narrowly missed a drowning death in the bowl. That would've been a shi*ty start to the wknd!

2- I'm grateful for lunch at my favorite sushi spot with my best friend!

3- I'm grateful my friend leant me her car while she's away for the weekend.

4- I'm grateful a portion of the graduation commencement speech I wrote for my client was quoted in yesterday's NY Newsday.

5- I'm grateful the parking cop I found near my car didn't write me a ticket, even though my muni-meter ticket expired 5 minutes before.

6- BONUS: I'm grateful this day turned out to be ridiculously beeeeautiful out!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rockin' the graduation commencement speech

Today is a very proud day for me.

At 7PM this evening, my client will be delivering a graduation commencement speech at Nassau Community College... a commencement speech I wrote!

He was asked to give the speech as an alumnus and entrepreneur, alongside keynote speaker Chuck Schumer.

Apparently the crowd will be upwards of 13,000... CRRRRAAZY!!!!!

After hearing me speak at my sister's wedding a few months ago, he enlisted my help in getting his ideas down on paper.

I was so thrilled and flattered. This is exactly the kind of writing I'd love to be doing more often.

It was definitely a challenge though. We met for a few hours to brainstorm and the process unfolded from there.

We went through several drafts over several weeks before finally getting it right.

Believe it or not, the initial problem was too much content. Shocker.

We had so many great ideas and only 4-7 minutes to deliver them... a little scary when we realized the first draft timed out at 14 minutes!!

It was hard to let go of some really great inspirational nuggets, but I eventually went at it with a chainsaw and hacked off anything that wasn't absolutely essential.

So excited to hear my words over the mic! I can only hope they inspire the audience as much as I was inspired writing them.

This is the reaction I envision!

I'll upload the video version of the speech asap on my WORD-OLOGY site, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, check out these memorable, laugh-out-loud commencement speeches below.

Humor is a common thread that's always welcome in speeches... especially during long ceremonies involving thousands of people with super short attention spans.

I wouldn't ever attempt to be that funny, but I did throw some jokes in there so hopefully we'll get some laughs.

There's always an element of research involved in writing. Watch and learn from the masters and then toss in your own spin.

Luckily in this case, the research was thoroughly entertaining!

LOVE Coco!! F-ing genius!

2000 Harvard Commencement Speech Part 1

2000 Harvard Commencement Speech Part 2

Steven Colbert... another comedic genuis!

Take a look here for a more straightforward, but amazingly poignant commencement speech delivered by Steve Jobs...
...short, sweet, and inspiring.
It's one of my favorites!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Natural stress relief just a click away!

We've all discovered ways to blow off steam and alleviate stress, but some methods only add fuel to the fire.

With all the noise going on around us - especially in our heads - it's no wonder we're constantly longing for an escape.

In lieu of packing up and moving to the tropics, there's meditation.

I've found the best way to achieve balance and focus, relieve anxiety, and de-stress is to  give my mind a micro vacation each day.

Meditation can have profound effects on your health, mental awareness, clarity of thought, and stress levels.

It's a practice that dates back thousands of years and is finally staking out territory in the landscape of our mainstream Western culture...

...with the help of respected proponents like Deepak Chopra and celebs like Howard Stern and Russell Simmons. 

There are countless types of meditation, some stricter than others. 

The most fundamental link between them all is the importance of relaxing your body and quieting your mind.

We all get distracted and consumed by our constant stream of thoughts. 

Meditation teaches you to detach from all that noise so you can actually relax, be present, and sharpen your mind.

Like anything else, it requires practice, patience, and persistence. Your brain is a muscle and meditation is a method of strength training.

Most of us are grossly over-stimulated and out of shape when it comes to being mindful, so it can be challenging at first.

But rest assured that if you stick with it, you will see results. 

KEEP IN MIND: being attached to getting it right, doing it perfectly, or seeing results will have the opposite effect. 

The whole idea is to let go and just BE.

Since we live in such an instant gratification culture, I figured I'd post a few very basic meditations I found on Youtube. 

You can also order CDs and download a 21-day meditation through the Chopra Center, a wellness and holistic healing center/website established by world renowned doctors Deepak Chopra and David Simon.

It's great to know that natural stress relief is just a click away. 

There's a ton out there, but these guided meditations are a great place to start until you figure out a practice that's right for you.

It's pretty amazing once you get into it. Doing just 10 minutes a day will make a difference.

Try it... nothing to lose but your stress!!!

20 min

10 min

Have a stress-free week! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Twitterville OR BUST!

Once upon a time I refused to join Facebook and barely used a computer.

Now I manage 3 email addresses, 2 websites, a Linkedin profile, a vimeo profile, a Youtube account, and a professional blog... in addition to this one.

Ugh, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

It seems I'm becoming one of "those people" - constantly connecting in an attempt to spread the love for my new business and my blog.

Love it or hate it, on this day when Facebook is likely to become the most highly valued tech IPO ever, the effect of social media on our world is undeniable.

It's no wonder I've officially quit internet dating... at least for now... but that's another post altogether.

All the upkeep can feel like a full-time job, and I'm not sure I want to be attached to my iphone like that kid on the cover of Time is attached to his mom's breast.

credit: time light box

It's a little overwhelming but I'll get the hang and so can you.

Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. I've gone from being the least tech-savvy person I know to, well, being moderately savvy.

I'm finally biting the social media bullet and making the move to Twitterville.

I've opened two Twitter accounts... one for littlemissmojo (@alittlemissmojo) and one for WORD-OLOGY (@WORDOLOGYnyc).

You can now see my live LMM feed to the right... FOLLOW ME!!!

Sometimes I see something inspiring or want to share a quick quote without writing a whole post or over-exposing myself on Facebook. Twitter is the perfect forum for that.

I have no idea what I'm doing yet. Haven't even reached out to find followers, but I've gotta start somewhere.

I love being limited to 140 characters on Twitter... in case you haven't noticed, keeping it short isn't exactly my forte.

And considering attention spans are shrinking by the minute (including my own), I'm continually aiming for quality and consistency over quantity.

That really is the trick to promoting anything online... consistent, original content.

The beauty of all of this accessibility is that all of your questions are accessible online.

The Google gods know all... get acquainted.

If you're contemplating the move to Twitterville, check out Mashable's Twitter Guide for step-by-step instructions on becoming a Twitter master.

Or just open an account and jump right in!

The most important thing to remember in all the connecting is to be genuine.

We're all inundated with information and stimulation, so whatever you're spewing, spew  from the heart.

The social media wave is incredibly powerful... use it to spread some good!!!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pretty Great Perspective


It's stories like these that make me incredibly grateful for my health and my life.

Of course, it's all relative. We all have good days and bad.

But consider these beautiful, brave young women the next time you feel like complaining about some trivial inconvenience like traffic, gas prices, or a pain-in-the-ass co-worker.

If you have love and health in your life, and you're not dealing with tragic circumstances, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

Every moment is precious. We're not entitled to anything. The only guarantee is that right this minute, we're still breathing.

Everything beyond that is a bonus... and a blessing.

Things can change at any moment, so enjoy all you can while you can... right now.

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Isn't it ironic?

How about a side of reality with that plate of optimism?

It seems that when you proclaim "aint no mountain high enough," (as I did in a post a few weeks ago), the universe tests your theory by putting one directly in your path... right up in your face actually.

Just days after that post, the company I was consulting for part-time closed up shop... at least temporarily.

I was developing concepts, creating activities, and writing content for kids based on social-environmental issues like eating disorders, wildlife conservation, leadership, and community service... refreshing considering all the negative influences out there.

It definitely sucked to hear the news, but mental survival mode kicked into high gear and I assured myself that all would be fine and everything happens for a reason. 

After all, I survived the much more stressful divorce from "that other startup job" last summer.

I look back and almost laugh at how upset I got at the time, and how much I could've avoided that by accepting the situation instead of resisting it.

Sometimes you just have to trust that everything happens for a reason.

But even knowing that, I couldn't help being a little jaded. It was the 2nd job in a less than a year that fell through. Really?

As it sank in, I grew frustrated and started planning myself a little pity party.

Then I remembered two things that snapped me out of it:

1) there are thousands of people who survived massive job losses over the last few years

2) the only guests at a pity party are you and your misery

I can only imagine how difficult the recovery process must be for people who are tied to their jobs for years like marriages.

It's jolting to say the least when something you're so invested in suddenly ends without warning.

The reality is there's nothing we can do about uncontrollable circumstances, but we can control our reaction.

I let myself be upset within reason and quickly moved forward. It's nice to see my rebound rate improving.

It was a short but sweet experience that genuinely inspired me, and I truly hope they find a way back.

In the meantime, my focus is to grow WORD-OLOGY. Things are going really well so far.

I'll be sharing what it's been like to launch my own business as it all unfolds. Stay tuned!

If you're interested in starting your own business, it'll hopefully provide some practical tips for getting the ball rolling, and inspire you to take the plunge for yourself.

And as for that mountain... still climbing, and actually loving it!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Mojo Monday: Let the games begin!

When you start to feel like things are getting a little status quo, the best way to spice things up is to find something new and adventurous to get into.

No, I'm not referring to sex... at least not in this post. 

I vowed in the beginning of the year to find some interesting new activities that didn't break the bank. 

Although I loved the Russian baths, I haven't been back since, so I've been itching for something outside of my typical social schedule. 

The goal was also to be spontaneous and say "YES" to things popping up unexpectedly that might lead me outside the box.

Well, it just so happened that my friend invited me unexpectedly to take a ride and hang in the park in our neighborhood.

It was a gorgeous day and I had no set plans other than to get some work done, so I said yes.

We sat in the sun drinking beer out of paper bags old school style, and I was so happy to be outdoors.

We noticed some people walking over to the empty field nearby and my friend pointed out that it was an archery field. 

Archery on Staten Island? Really?

I was surprised I never knew it was there or knew anyone who had done it before. 

I watched through the fence, seriously impressed as they shot their bows and arrows Robin Hood style.

Finally one of the guys yelled out for us to come over and try it. I hesitated for a second, and then said YES.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was SERIOUSLY excited. I felt like I was getting to experience a part of history. 

Maybe it was the fact that I'd seen The Hunger Games, Braveheart, and Robin Hood in the two weeks before, but I was like a kid in a candy store. Who knew?

These guys were no joke. They had some serious gear and some more basic stuff for beginners like us who wanted to try it out.

A "quiver" used to hold arrows behind your back

beautifully crafted bows, which can be pretty pricey

They were using traditional bows and arrows...

NOT the more modern compound bows common in hunting today. I was told those require less skill and effort than the traditional versions.

There's a whole subculture linked to archery, and although they were laid back, they definitely took it seriously.

I asked about a million questions and learned that they each had pseudonyms, and there are huge events where people set up tents, dress up in medieval garb, and represent their "kingdom" in competitions.

Yes, it was all a little "dungeons and dragons" but these guys were so cool to let us try it out. And because they had extra equipment, it was free!

I got a quickie lesson on safety, form, and mechanics before strapping on a leather arm band, finger tab glove, and taking my first shot. So exhilarating!

I was nervous at first, but it was actually a pretty calming, meditative experience once I got into it.

I definitely shot better than I expected to. The arrows flew straight and quick, just a little to the right of the target board. Eventually I hit it, and naturally, I did a cheesy celebratory dance.

I was very proud of myself. It was so fun, I felt like Katniss! (That's the girl from The Hunger Games in case you've been living under a rock.)

Ironically, the next day I got a Groupon for archery lessons on Staten Island... pretty strange coincidence. 

A few hours after that, I opened a People magazine right to an article about an actress who is into archery. Weird.

Then I had a dream someone was trying to kill me and I was defending myself with a bow and arrows, lol.

Clearly all signs were pointing in that direction, so I went with it.

They invited us to come practice any time, so I went back again, making a lot of my shots on the target board. Three or four even hit the blue!

Apparently there's a whole points system and ranking procedure. I'm not there just yet.

It was honestly one of the coolest things I'd done in a while. It's not often we stumble onto activities that are new and exciting.

It was definitely outside my comfort zone, but well worth it.

Admittedly, I'm a GINORMOUS geek. And while I might not meet the man of my dreams at the archery field or become a grand master bowman with a pseudonym like Angel Heart Demon Slayer, it sparked something in me that made me feel like a kid again.

I'll be on the lookout for other things that ignite the kid in me, and I encourage you to do the same.

So next time you're on the fence and someone asks you to cross over and try something new, do yourself a favor and just say

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I fell off track a bit with recapping my Europe trip, but I'm getting back into it, so stay tuned for posts covering my adventures in Spain, Italy, and Greece!

To catch up with earlier travel posts, start at the beginning or at the previous TRAVELISCIOUS post . You can always click the TRAVEL label on the right to view them all.

After La Boqueria, we took a bus to Parc Guell, one of Antonio Gaudi's masterpieces.

I hadn't really planned to go visit the park but my new friends said it was worth seeing, and so did my old friend from high school who lived in the area.

It was a bit of a trek, probably a 45 min bus ride from the city center, but I loved looking out the windows at the streets of Barcelona.

I was about to fall asleep standing when suddenly a woman screamed. The bus had stopped and just as the doors opened, a man grabbed her bag and bolted!

Within two minutes the Barcelona police were on the scene. It was as if they were waiting on the next corner...hmmm, they're either super fast or super shady.

Some of them got on the bus to check for an accomplice, but no dice. 

First and only crime witnessed on the trip...thankfully! 

Petty theft is huge in Europe, especially in the big cities. After that I actually contemplated wearing that horrendous body wallet you strap on underneath your clothes.

Never happened though.

Not long after that sobering experience, we arrived at Parc Guell (pronounced "gway"). It's an amazing outdoor garden overlooking the entire city of Barcelona.

Gaudi created the park with the vision of combining the natural landscape with his incredibly imaginative architecture.

I honestly wasn't interested at all in Gaudi before Barcelona, but his art is impossible to avoid when you're there.

My impression was that it would be over-the-top, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland-ish... fun, but not my taste really.

But I have to say, I was amazed by everything I saw. No one would question Gaudi's originality. It was the kind of place you'd think a kid dreamt up.

It wasn't just the structures, but the incredible detailing. Every inch both inside and out was taken into consideration.

amazing mosaic tile ceilings!

As distinctive as they are, the structures somehow blend in with the natural backdrop.

 my new travel friend from Cali, Karina

I loved the way he used his art to celebrate nature and create an outdoor space for people to enjoy. If you ever make your way to Barcelona, it's the perfect place for a picnic. 

Even though the weather was overcast, the colors were absolutely amazing!


Even after the park, I was obsessed with noticing the colors around the city. Love how art can have that effect.

This was the start of my obsession with doors and windows on this trip. I loved all the different styles and colors. Stay tuned for more in future posts.

This pic makes me laugh. Such a dork, but I gotta love it.

One of my new friends made me take a picture of him jumping up in the air with the city in the background, and then somehow convinced me to do the same. It took several attempts to get it right, but the small crowd watching was definitely entertained, and it's a classic shot I'll always look back and smile at.