Experiments in creating my own path and living on purpose. Sometimes lost, occasionally found, and often inspired.

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“What are you searching for?” she said. It was late in Paris. We were jetlagged and a little bit drunk. Sitting upon a rooftop patio, a torrential downpour had just cleared the evening sky. The city spread out before us in a dusky, rosy, violent, dreamy sort of light. The question took me by surprise. It lingered, unassuming and kind.

Of late I find myself thinking a lot about that question. I wonder about congruence and what it means to live a creative life. A part of me understands that perhaps the search is simple. Perhaps congruence is just made up of truth and love and that fluidity of being that comes with the ebbs and flow of inquiry. To me this is a creative life, I suppose. A simultaneous coming home and wandering outwards of sorts.

I can’t say that I’ll ever truly know what this search is for, but I do find myself opening my heart in the process and maybe that’s enough.

AUTHENTICITY: living in alignment with who you are and what you stand for, acting with awareness, striping away the nonessential, honoring what remains, letting it flow right out

CREATIVITY: bringing the curiosity, playfulness, and courage to explore what’s possible and discover what’s true, practicing active empathy, a receptiveness to humor, beauty and vitality

COMPASSION: a willingness to see and be seen, kindness above all else, the belief that every person has a unique story and that each and every one of us are capable of greatness

FREEDOM: the space to explore, grow and evolve towards your best self, the choice to be your own guide, to take accountability for your life, to hold a generous heart and an unburdened soul

ADVENTURE: to be an active participant in life, pursuing a path of discovery, questioning assumptions and limitations, riding boundaries, embracing serendipity, a thirst for wonder

JOY: to wake up each morning and feel deeply alive, find beauty in the little things, savor each precious moment, surround yourself with color, laughter, and a deep gratitude for life

PEOPLE: to fill your life with good, kind, interesting people, expansive thinkers, to love and be loved, to serve, to challenge and to inspire

I wrote this Manifesto a few years ago as a way to get centered and honest about what matters most to me. While the core themes and values persist, the way I understand and articulate them evolves over time as I also evolve as a human being in this world. In essence, I guess you could say that this Manifesto is never truly finished, but the fluidity of it is also what makes it complete.

This post is part of a series called Things Unfinished. It is an exploration of creative endeavors that I started, but never completed.


No matter how much we dial in our wellness routines and habits, life happens and we all occasionally fall off track. Course correcting early and often can help, but I’ve come to believe that the key to sustaining wellbeing lies in learning to master the skill of recalibration. Here are the three steps that I often take when I need to recalibrate and reset my wellness focus:

1. Block off space and time.

This first step is all about stopping so you can start again. I like to begin this phase on a weekend when I can minimize commitments. A big part of taking a full pause, however, means not forcing expectations on yourself. I find this to be the hardest part, but some simple mindfulness can help. By bringing awareness to any discomfort you have around slowing down and doing less, you can begin to detach from the urge to continue to grind and instead focus on the enjoyment of slipping into relaxation.

2. Find your foundation.

Once you’ve slowed your rhythm, then give yourself a few days for self-care. I like to do this following the weekend – a few weeknights with no commitments or evening work tends to do the trick. During this phase I try to focus on just doing some basic healthy behaviors, without any kind of rigidity. This can mean drinking water, cooking a healthy meal, maybe doing some light activity like a yoga class or a short run. Lastly, I try to spend some time outdoors or in nature, which I always find to be invigorating and good for positivity.

3. Reverse the momentum.

Once the healthy behaviors start to kick in, it’s important to commit to getting back on schedule. Start up your basic morning routine and recommit to whatever your cornerstone habits are. For me this includes: Moving Daily (30 min or more), Eating Whole Foods (don’t worry about calories), Resting (set a bedtime), Meditation (10 min or more in the morning). If you need some extra support, try making it social – do some sort of healthy activity or meal with a friend – this makes it more fun and it holds you accountable.


This post is part of a series called Things Unfinished. It is an exploration of creative endeavors that I started, but never completed. This particular piece was inspired by some coaching that I led with founders and designers who were looking to overcome burnout and learn how to work in healthier and happier ways. This is a hurdle that is near and dear to me.

Resisting a thought or a feeling is kind of like trying to yank your fingers out of a Chinese finger trap. The harder you pull, the stronger its grasp becomes on you. When you stop trying to force that release, the contraption, like the thought or the feeling, easily slides away. The finger trap doesn’t magically disappear of course. The absence of struggle and moving inwards loosens the grip, which then creates space and allows you to effortlessly remove your fingers.

The same is true for our minds and in our lives. Sometimes the most effective and least painful way of shedding our struggles, is simply to move towards them, acknowledge them and then let them go. By creating space for that movement to occur, the outcomes we seek come more fluidly and more quickly. Of course, it can often be surprising to discover that what we struggled so hard for, was in fact quite easy the entire time. I suppose self-created struggle is a very human quality. All the more reason to bring awareness to resistance, and then, even if for a moment, let it be.

This post is part of a series called Things Unfinished. It is an exploration of creative endeavors that I started, but never completed. In many ways it is also an inventory of my fears.

This little analogy has been sitting in my journal, tucked away for later. It felt precious and made me smile. I wanted to package it in something worthy, something big, something important. But creativity doesn’t have to be big or important. In fact, these lovely little nuggets can sometimes stay with us longer, coloring our understanding of the world.

These are some thoughts I compiled a while back for when things at work are tough and advice on “how to quit your job” or “follow your passion” just doesn’t cut it. When I first wrote this piece, I was navigating a particularly difficult environment. Packaging my thoughts through the lens of Job Advice was a way for me to explore underlying questions of dignity and the human spirit, while also expressing an experience that at the time I didn’t know how to openly talk about. 

The aftermath of the elections has resurfaced these topics for me in a big way. It’s reminded me of what it feels like for another human being to make someone feel small and the way that can call into question our sense of worth and lead us to behave accordingly. In my own experience I discovered how easy it can be to subconsciously and unintentionally adopt the mindset and behaviors of your environment. Needless to say, I learned a lot about compassion during this time and the importance of connecting with our humanity, especially when it is hard.

For those who are trying to figure out ways to exist in an imperfect culture, here are some things that helped me navigate a difficult environment. While these points are framed in the context of work, I think they can also be applied more broadly.


Build your own foundation outside of the job that frames the larger sum of your activities and tells the full story of who you are and what you’re capable of. Try not to let things like credentials and hierarchy define you. By being very intentional about choosing your vantage point, you can create the playing field that elevates you above your circumstances.


Take a step back and try to be mindful about how you show up in relation to your circumstances. Don’t react, don’t let them define you. Be kind to yourself and to those around you. Consider the likelihood that those who you may be conflict with, are also facing frustration and challenges in showing up day after day.


Had a bad day or a crappy meeting? Don’t freak out. Pause, maybe go on a walk. Then deliberately and consistently take small steps towards your larger goal or new opportunities. Everything changes. Have faith in your ability to guide yourself towards a better future.


Being in a bad work situation can be really draining. Finding ways to refuel yourself is crucial because it keeps your spirit alive. It gives you the spark and the motivation to keep going. If you’re not being fueled up by your job, find sources outside of work or talk to your manager or team about finding ways to interject little activities that energize you. 


Do everything it takes to maintain moments of joy and general optimism. This is the number one priority. There must be hope. Hope in the present moment, hope that the current circumstances can change, hope for a better future.

Lastly, while it’s important to keep showing up in less than ideal circumstances, it’s also important to not put our lives on hold until we find ourselves in a better situation. Make your journey your asset. Draw on your creativity to make your situation work for you, to reap the lesson, to leapfrog beyond your constraints. And remember, “hope inspires the good to reveal itself.”

This post is part of a series called Things Unfinished. It is an exploration of creative endeavors that I started, but never completed. In many ways it is also an inventory of my fears.


The hardest part of flight can often be the point of lift off. It is the most honest point in an upward trajectory. It demands that you admit whether or not you truly want to soar. It is the moment you find yourself in a headstand, not toppling over, but instead swaying in balance. It is the unexpected arrival of success. It is falling in love. It is the sensation that the writing or art that you’re making is exactly what it needs to be and that in fact, it’s exactly what you want it to be.

The sketch above is small section from a larger multimedia piece that I began years ago. I was halfway through making it, when I started to feel a deep sense of satisfaction and I froze. I got scared that I might mess it up. While I never completed the piece, I held onto it for years because it represented the hope and exhilaration of goods things unfinished.

Last year during an apartment purge I couldn’t quite bring myself to let go of the drawing. Instead, I tore out the girl whose feet lift off the earth, half in flight, as she tosses birds upward into the air. This sketch represents a continuous theme in my life — a tension between meaning and freedom, a conflicted desire for both roots and adventure, the darkest, deepest question of how to live a life that affords me both a sense of vitality and a sense of love and belonging.

If nothing else, the lesson I take from this first post on Things Unfinished, is that it is precisely in these moments of lift off that we we have a choice to make: we can choose to slam hard on the breaks and not screw it up, or we can choose to relax into the momentum, letting it sweep us forward, without controlling how we soar, where we go or when or how we land.

My hope is that I can learn to always take flight when I’m afforded the ability to soar. I know that whether I stay afloat or not is of less importance. What matters is that point of honesty and the willingness to jump into both joy and fear, because that is the most beautiful sensation of all. Some might even say that lifting off is the whole point of flight in the first place.

This post is part of a series called Things Unfinished. It is an exploration of creative endeavors that I started, but never completed. In many ways it is also an inventory of my fears.

This year I’ve been acutely aware of my creative blockages. Perhaps this is because I feel more connected to my creative energy and I’ve become much more aware of the extent to which it fuels my experiences, my relationships and generally brings a sense of abundance to my life.

So why the blockages? I was recently reminded of the power of fear, perfectionism and biting off too much, while watching a ZenHabits webinar on Creating Daily. I had the fortune of learning some of these lessons a couple of years ago while doing a fantastic coaching program with Leo. Funny enough, my original post on these lessons randomly republished itself a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why this happened. Maybe it was the wordpress gods telling me to start again or maybe my blog was getting lonely and this was it’s way of telling me it needs some love.

Regardless, I find that in my personal work I am often guilty of starting creative projects and not finishing them, so I’ve decided to challenge myself and do a little exercise. For the remainder of the year, I’m going to publish one thing a week that is born of something that I started but didn’t finish. There is one rule. I can’t spend more than 60 minutes on any piece I repurpose or revive. When I’m done, I will publish it, even if it doesn’t feel complete or polished.

This is scary, I feel exposed already. But also excited. Bear with me, friends. I’m getting my creativity back. I am making art out of things unfinished.


It’s any old Tuesday night, except that I find myself on an impromptu interisland flight to Maui. I’m sitting smack in the middle of a large group of eight year-old boys, who also happen to be the Maui All Stars Baseball Team. The little munchkins have just won the state championship and they are ecstatic. The plane takes off and the flight attendants attempt the usual formalities, but not for long. They quickly realize that being heard over the chaos of champions is a lost cause.

Several hours earlier, I begin my day with a morning hike. Despite tropical rain showers, we climb the costal mountain, in search of epic views and rainbows. We return happy and covered in mud, but my phone does not survive the rainstorm. Only as I stand in the airport, waving goodbye to my friends as they board our flight to San Francisco, do I realize that I am alone on an island, with a semi-useless standby ticket and no technology.

I proceed to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting outside at the airport café, bathing in the warmth of tropical air, sipping iced tea, and writing in a paper notebook. I let go of urges to check social media. I acknowledge my dependency on things like music to mediate my mood, and my dependency on mood to mediate my actions. Hours fly by and I write more in that notebook, than I have on my laptop in months. Not for a minute, am I bored. (more…)


As a design strategist gone MBA, gone startup founder, gone lifestyle researcher, and now UX researcher, I’ve worn many different hats over the past 12 years. Following my curiosity, connecting diverse experiences, and discovering possibilities has been the defining pattern of my path — but it’s a pattern that began long before I joined the work world, and it’s by no means unique to me alone.

When I was 12 years old, my family moved from a small town in Massachusetts to Quito, Ecuador, where I enrolled in a local school, became fluent in Spanish, and assimilated to the culture. I returned “home” to the U.S. three years later, only to be blindsided by reverse culture shock. I no longer knew how to fit into my own culture or, for that matter, how to navigate an American high school. An outsider yet again, I felt simultaneously exposed and unseen. It was only through lots of exploration, a good deal of confusion, and more time abroad that I came to understand I didn’t have to pick between cultures. Aspects of each made me who I was.

Years later I stumbled upon sociologist Ruth Van Reken’s book Third Culture Kids, which shed light on my experience — and gave it a name. In her research on expats in the 1950s, she discovered that people who moved to a different culture had actually formed a third culture — one that was distinct from their home and host cultures. She calls children who grew up this way “third culture kids” and explains that “through friendships that cross boundaries, they’ve learned the very different ways people can see life.” I’ll never forget the day I spent reading Van Reken’s book cover to cover, and how everything suddenly made sense. This explained why I navigated life and work the way that I did, and that there were others out there like me. I wasn’t alone.  (more…)


I like to do my New Years resolutions in the Fall, but this year I’m not setting any goals. Instead I’m picking one word to guide my year and serve as a personal line of inquiry. My word for this year is Flow. In many ways this is a word that chose me. Let me explain.

Live like a plant.

Earlier this year I did a project on renewal and wellbeing. While conducting research in Colorado, I met someone who told me that he wished he could live like a plant. He explained that plants don’t need anything extra. They’re designed in the most beautiful, simple way where their natural default state is one of vitality. I found this to be quite profound. I’d never considered that maybe our bodies and minds can guide us to our healthiest, happiest state all on their own. Maybe we don’t need anything extra. Maybe if we simply nourish our bodies and let them slip into their natural rhythms, then we default to our best possible state. It’s quite beautiful if you think about it.

Everything falls into place (but first it explodes).

This summer multiple things happened within the span of a couple of weeks that sent my world spinning. While I had little control over these events, my initial reaction was total and utter frustration. Couldn’t life just be easy for once? It felt like a bad joke. Instead of beating myself down trying to battle the circumstances, I decided to roll with the upheaval. And sometimes change is like this. It’s a choice that we have to make out of kindness, not because we’ve landed on the right answer.

This perspective led me to move with the momentum around me and as a result, it made me receptive to unplanned opportunities. Within a matter of months everything fell into place and since then life has changed drastically for the better. I’m settling into a new apartment that’s starting to feel like home. My little sister moved to San Francisco and for the first time in the 12 years I have family in this city. A couple of weeks ago I started what might quite possibly be my dream job.

Me and the old fisherman, sitting on the beach under the moon.

I planned to use my time off in-between jobs to catch up on life and get organized. In passing, I wishfully mentioned to a friend that I’d love to go on a beach trip. On a whim he generously offered me his family’s vacation home in Hawaii. Setting aside hesitations, I put myself on a plane to Oahu and off I went. One evening I drove out to Pipeline to watch the surfers at sunset. Ideas I’d been mulling over and procrastinating on for a while began to flow with real clarity. I pulled out my journal, started writing and didn’t stop until it got dark and it was just me and an old fisherman, sitting on the beach under the moon.

Oahu reminded me that my most natural, happy, and expansive state is when I flow. Flow is a word that I find both scary and exciting. It means relinquishing some control, but also being actively open to whatever comes my way. I think this year might just be beautiful.

What’s your word? How does it guide your year? Think of it less like goal and more like a personal line of inquiry.

Dan Eldon

I interviewed someone last summer who recently passed away in an avalanche. I find myself thinking about him these days, despite the fact that I only knew him for a couple of hours. During our conversation he told me about his aspirations and personal philosophy on life adventures. He was quite remarkable. As a researcher, this has made me realize that when I ask people about their life stories, I generally assume continuity. This is a big assumption.

Something that caught my eye during the interview, was a copy of one of my all time favorite books on his table – The Journals of Dan Eldon. Like Dan Eldon, my interviewee’s thirst for life and his ability to relentlessly seek beauty, eventually led him to an adventure that cut his life short. I can’t help but wonder if being more alive, raw, spirited, and vibrant is somehow dangerous? Or maybe it’s the only way to live.

My own copy of Dan Eldon’s Journal has traveled with me for as long as I can remember. There is something about his work that speaks to my soul. At the same time, there’s something about that book that has also always made me feel a little bit uneasy. Like I know that it represents a thread in my life that I will never be able to not follow. And deep down I sort of have this visceral sense that it may destroy me. This journey has always been both my lifeblood and my battle.

In reflecting on these stories, I’m left with this new understanding: moving towards what makes you feel more alive also moves you closer towards your mortality. It magnifies your ability to feel, it heightens your awareness, it fills you up with life and then it rushes in deep, and flows right through you. And this is the real reason why following your true journey is so incredibly terrifying. Because as much as we want to live, we also want to assume continuity. And it is hard and scary to accept the ephemeral nature of what it means to be truly alive.

Three Types of Growth Path

We live in a time where there are endless ways we could approach how we grow and how we define success. Yet when it comes to careers, we often only talk about one type of growth path. While the conventional path is not inherently bad, it’s also not necessarily authentic or accessible to everyone.

I believe in collecting models of possibility and find that more often than not, society fails to make the many different approaches to life and work explicit. The more we can distill, articulate and discuss these different approaches, however, the more maps we’ll have at our disposal.

The framework above was inspired by a conversation with a friend who is a self-declared climber. It’s limited and largely informed by my own experience in tech, design and innovation. There are many other types of growth paths out there though and I’d love to hear of any others that come to mind.