2018 has gone on for an eternity. It was the year that I was happily pulled in all sort of different directions. It was also the year that creative pursuits officially became part of my definition of “work”, a term that has become much greater (and more fulfilling) than the sum of its parts.
My environment has been a huge catalyst for this shift in mindset. Along with many other New Yorkers, I welcomed the second year of a tumultuous Presidency with fists clenched and placards raised high. The pressing need to make protest part of our busy lives has forced us to be more organized and resourceful. It has made us shift our routines in a mindful, more productive way.
I’m fortunate to live in New York where a number of grass-roots organizations have popped up since the 2016 election. My favorite to work with has been Rally + Rise, as they’ve redefined activism and made it more accessible and exciting. Made by and for multi-hyphens, the group was founded on the belief that people have the best intentions, yet often don’t have hours of free time each week to commit to do-goodery. After all, we have jobs and side hustles, partners and friends, book clubs and yoga sessions to get to. We have therefore organized monthly Activist Social Clubs for those that can’t devote a lot of time. Here, disgruntled citizens meet and vent over drinks, and ultimately participate in more creative approaches to activism – think Tinder canvassing, voter registration bar crawls, and angry letter writing sessions. They do good work and I’ve met some wonderful people along the way.
The Environment has affected my day job more directly. Working in sanctions and embargoes on Wall Street requires heavy collaboration with the Federal government, which has been a challenge given the Administration’s inconsistent foreign policy. I work to tell the story of how the Bank counters terrorist-financing, arms proliferation, human trafficking and other crimes that necessitate the use of the financial system. Doing this as the targets continually change has been interesting to say the least. Some days the narrative is how to protect the Bank from the world, other days it’s protecting the world from the Bank. I go back and forth on this quite a bit.
It’s a privilege that my work allows me to travel. This perk, along with that increasingly pervasive Environment that I’ve mentioned before, has made creative projects necessary. These creative pursuits have taken the form of far-flung escapes this year, from Colombia to Switzerland and many places in between (with 8 treks across the Atlantic overall). As a multi-hyphen never stops, I managed to tie these trips to writing and photography assignments, which I’ve absolutely loved putting together.
For ROAM Magazine, I went to Guatape, Colombia where I jet skied through the Andes and almost died motorcycling. Also for ROAM, I covered the Pride parade here in New York, which involved a lot of dancing in a heat wave. I went to Lisbon where I gawped at antiques and local artisan shops and wrote about it for Dame Traveler. I also enjoyed writing about climate change policies here in New York for the International Development Journal, which allowed me to pretend that I still work in development!
My favorite trip of the year was going home to Cyprus, which is still the best place I’ve ever been. I’m currently working on a long-form story for SUITCASE, which I hope to be able to share next year. I’m also spending the Holidays putting together a winter guide to Lake Como for Here Magazine. I hope to do a lot more writing in the New Year and I’m looking forward to working with some new publications.
As for future travels, I’ve had my eye on Cuba for ages, and would love to go back to Colombia. Potentially India and South Africa as well, so lots more multi-tasking ahead.