Spring Cleaning

March comes in like a lion…April showers bring May flowers.
Spring is in the air (or at least on my brain) and planting season is upon us. As the farmer tills the soil to get ready to receive seed in hopes of a bountiful harvest, allow me to stir up your soil. What seeds are you sowing for a fall harvest? Maybe Lent has a hold on me or maybe I’m really taking time to digest my own New Year wishes – tilling my own soil. A link to my New Year wish below.
I regularly take inventory of  my life, probably too much because I am my harshest and worst critic. I know my personality failings as well as I am acquainted with my physical flaws. Curse the person who thought a mirror in the bathroom was a good idea!  Wet, naked, and not physically fit does not a good morning make. I’m not saying that you nor I have to be a zero because I am not and proud of the curvaceous, brick house that is my shape. However, what the mirror reminds me is that it doesn’t take much to go from brick house to a weeble wooble  figure when I indulge too much and neglect to exercise my body.
When I wake up and look in the mirror, I am daily reminded that I need healthier eating habits and to keep my body in shape if I want to enjoy the fruit of my laboring in NYC. I want to be able to stick around to enjoy whatever success comes my way.
Back to our farmer analogy.  As I am toiling in the concrete jungle – funny I am trying to grow a dream in a concrete environment – I am mindful of the one thing I didn’t want to happen to me in NYC. Should success find me, I do not want to lose the essence of me. Let me not forget: (1) my humble upbringing; (2) to feel compassion for others; (3) what it is like to sacrifice, struggle, and give birth to a dream/vision; and (4) the ones that stood by me and my dream when it seemed impossible, ridiculous, and/or crazy. Let me be mindful to “neglect not the day of small beginnings.”
My website has a quote from EB White: “New York can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending on a good deal of luck…No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”
I sat in Sunday service and the pastor said something that spoke to me. Ironically, it was not a scripture. He quoted an article from New York Magazine titled “Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness” by Jennifer Senior. “New York is a city of aspirants, the destination people come to realize dreams…And of course we should feel indebted to the world’s dreamers, but there’s a line between heartfelt aspiration and a mindless state of yearning…the Big Apple is a perfect moniker for the city: ‘The apple is the cause of the fall of human happiness…It’s the symbol of that desire for something more. Even though paradise was paradise, they were still restless’…Happiness is ‘less a function of absolute income than of comparative income…New York is the most varied, most heterogeneous place on earth. No matter how hard you try, you really can’t avoid walking by restaurants where people drop your monthly rent on a bottle of wine and store windows where shoes sit like museum pieces on gold pedestals. You can’t help but feel trumped. As it were.’ Yet most of us insist that New York is the only place we’d be happy.”
I moved to the Big Apple to pursue a dream.  However, I don’t want the pursuit of the dream to negate all else. In our pursuit of happiness, are we really pursuing happiness? What seeds are you sowing for harvest in the fall? I want to use my success to help urban youth, but will success and power corrupt my noble intentions?  “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 
My transition to NYC has been an insightful one. It is said that it is not the destination, but the journey.  This city has a rough outer shell and it sometimes clouds the fact that it also has a big heart. Riding the subway being pushed and shoved, people acting like “excuse me” or common courtesy is a commodity on the stock exchange too expensive to be showered on fellow straphangers. Remember as a kid, “who are the people in your neighborhood, they’re the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street, they’re the people that you meet each day.” When I notice that I am becoming too annoyed with fellow straphangers and people on the street, I have to remind myself that is the part of the city I don’t want to adopt. 
It’s almost as if the city guards its heart for tragedy and emergencies only. Not that I haven’t seen kindness among New Yorkers, but like a man afraid of displaying emotion, New Yorkers are guarded in their display of concern for others.  It is the biggest irony in a city known for its philanthropy. I have learned much in the short time I have been here, but I don’t want to be grumpy and kvetching all day.  New Yorkers complain even when things are seemingly good. It is one of the things I noticed people watching.  It can be a beautiful sunny day. Person 1: Good weather, nice and sunny. Person 2: Yes but it’s too sunny, it bothers my eyes.  Sometimes I think New Yorkers are predisposed to unhappiness because to say something is good means they can’t complain.  But that’s the irony and humor in my new city. There’s never a dull moment – only in NYC!
I want to see my dreams fulfilled in NYC, but not at the expense of a loss of joy or failure to know contentment, mistaking the amassing of things as a indicator of my happiness. Just me spring cleaning my heart J
For 2013, may success and luck find you and may you retain your ability to smile at simple pleasures – like kids enjoying a snowball fight.  I dare you to have fun!

Happy New Year!

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.