Growing up on the east coast has always given me a great sense of pride in being a part of what the east coast means to me. I think of the east coast as fast paced, hard working, authenticity. And this is coming from a gal who was born and raised on the east coast and yet has spent the majority of my adult life on the west coast. Though the pride I have in being a true east coaster is one that I will cherish my whole life.
For over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in the retail world, or rather REIT’s, who develop own and manage most of the biggest shopping centers in the United States. After representing Fashion Valley for over half a decade, I was ready for a new challenge to further utilize and explore my talents. I had put it out in the universe that I was ready for something new. At that same time, I took a journey with my cousin to Peru. This country has some of the most magical and spiritual places this world has to offer. During this exploration, we ventured to Aguas Caliente to visit Machu Picchu one of the 7 wonders of the world- that, by the way, is absolutely not to be missed! (If you’ve ever even thought about doing so-GO!!!!! You will not regret it and your life will forever be touched by this incredible place. ) I digress…
We started our journey in Lima where we were fortunate enough to spend time with our friend Hugo and his family who quickly familiarized us with the country, the culture and the must do’s on the trip. They told us that while in Machu Picchu to be sure to say a special prayer and think of the things we hoped for, for our lives as the “mama pacha energy” that is known to be at this historic, inspiring site can be life changing. I recall it ever so clearly, sitting on top of this truly magical land and feeling love and energy running through me as I took a moment to ‘go in’, take a moment of reflection and meditation and honor this peaceful place. (Albeit, with a couple alpaca’s and llama’s hanging out beside me, lurking about)
I had just come out of a devastating divorce and was ready for the next chapter to unveil itself that would allow for great growth and inspiration for my career, as I wanted to focus my previous challenges into something more worthy. Well, let’s just say Hugo was right. Less than a month later, I was recruited to work with my biggest competitor in the shopping center business. And despite the feeling of having to don a Scarlet letter in moving onto “the other side” I dove into this new opportunity, feeling somehow that the Incan’s had a hand in this next step. You see, at this time, the World Trade center was a project being developed by my new company, Westfield. And being an east coaster, I wanted to be a part of it. The entire world felt the affects of 9/11. Westfield was personally affected by that tragic day, losing some of their very own from their Westfield family. I was beyond inspired by the opportunity to be part of Westfield’s passion behind this project- a chance for honoring, remembering and persevering despite the pain.
Fast forward to 1 month ago, when I had the honor of being a part of this center’s grand opening. Working with my team, collaborating on these efforts was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve been a part of thus far. Not only was I inspired to see the hours and dedication that was poured into all aspects of this center, I was fueled by the fact that the entire grand opening was a Family Day, created and dedicated to honor those touched by the tragedies that happened there. The grand opening was a beautiful moment that completely touched and overwhelmed my heart. In fact, at times it was hard to hold in all the emotion I felt simply being there, surrounded by thousands of people who were brought together to be honored. Spending time with those so closely affected by 9/11 and feeling all the love in this sacred spot was truly remarkable. I love my east coasters. Though let’s be honest… we move fast, we talk fast, we want typically people to move out of our way. And anyone who’s even visited New York knows that it can be a bit frantic and dare I say, an aggressive city at times. And yet, on this day, there was such a sense of peace. Of respect. Of honor. Of Love, that overwhelmed my heart and made me thankful that a little vacation to a little place called Peru, opened up a new chapter in my life where I had the chance to contribute to a project of compassion, of heart, of meaning. And on this day, the 15th year anniversary of 9/11 I can’t help but think of all those families who I spent moments with- being inspired by their strength, love and togetherness. I will never forget.