And there we were… at a standstill with all seven bags during pedestrian rush hour on the NYC sidewalk.. being dodged by a sea of beautiful people in suits walking with purpose-driven fury.. glances in our direction alternating between horror and sympathy. That part was funny later.
Maybe they saw our tangled hair and the look of exhaustion on our faces…we were lost again, with all of our baggage, somewhere in Midtown, I think. Jenn and I looked worse for wear- and NOT in a ‘bohemian chic’ kind of way. Too tired from the pace we hadn’t slowed from, we hit ‘snooze’ until it was a manic and stressful bolt to pack all the bags and run for the subway. In just over a week, we’d managed to break some amazing ground. We’d successfully hosted the NYC X Nicaragua Impact Mixer, presented to Kirkland + Ellis law firm to achieve status as their pro bono clients, and swung the doors wide open by stacking the Latitude family with spirited New Yorkers who share the sentiment that ‘charity’ is not synonymous with ‘sacrifice.’
For a moment even we questioned that, though. That day on the street, when Jenn got lost and missed her flight home, when we parted in the busy subway station mumbling ‘f-bombs’ at each other, or when I was so tired that I hit an emotional wall and had a tantrum-like meltdown, resentfully dragging over 150 lbs of luggage to a new apartment (14 couches and counting) topping it off with the fact that I’m almost 100% certain that Bradley Cooper witnessed the whole thing.
Somewhere deep down I knew it would be one of those “this is going to be really funny later” moments… but right then, looking into the frustration in Jenn’s eyes and staring back at her with the same frustration in my own, I wasn’t smiling. But then, about three hours later, after I’d made it to a new friends’ couch, put my bags down, wiped the sweat from my forehead, the madness subsided and I shook my head. My lips curled upwards and somehow I found myself laughing when my phone beeped and a message from Jenn popped up: “Took the wrong subway twice and then missed my train. Not at airport yet + flight is long gone. Lolz. Sooo, what’s next?” Ha.
This whole whirlwind and all the rest of them are products of our staunch dedication to living our dreams… Jenn is back in Canada working from there and I’m still in NYC, couchsurfing and grateful for friends who accommodate my current status as a bonafide vagabond. In a matter of months we’ll be back in El Salvador and Nicaragua, tuning up our Spanish and completing a number of education and health projects that we’re working on with communities that inspire us. (Check here for more information on the projects we’re working on this Winter.)
Building and running this charity is something that takes a lot of hours, energy, and effort… but it is full of surprises, challenges, and adventure. So long as we can soak up and share the authenticity and passion in the experiences that guide us, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. (Except that time we were yelling at each other on the street…. we’d both prefer to forget that ever happened.)
Here are nine lessons we (re)learned this time around (and will probably need to learn many more times):
1. Take help from people who want to give it.
2. Invest in dry shampoo. Saves time.
3. We don’t have enough time in this life to hold grudges. Get over it fast to stay happy.
4. Pack lighter.
5. Always take the meeting.
6. Laugh at yourself- or at least know you’re going to be able to laugh later- when things get ridiculous. There’s a french quote that I love~ “we must laugh before we are happy for fear of dying before having laughed at all.”
7. Let intuition guide you… except when you’re in a rush, in which case consult google maps immediately.
8. Don’t be scared.
9. Keep the ‘why’ in mind. There’s probably a reason at the heart of what you’re doing and that’s the part that matters.
Lots brewing… we’ll keep you posted on the ups and (inevitable) downs along the way. x