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  • Writer's pictureAlison Conigliaro-Hubbard

Reconnecting with a Lost Ally to Reinvigorate my Soul

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

I thought I would share a bit about my experience this last weekend. Some of you may know that after 2 years of COVID lockdown, combined with my cancer journey, choosing to leave my tech career behind, starting something new, mom's accident in November and lots of out-of-my-comfort-zone learning, in addition to being a 'hyper-achiever' as they would say in PQ terms... I had been feeling boxed in. I was physically about to combust, and I needed to do something about it! :)

So, a couple weeks ago, one of my girlfriends from WeWomenLead (who I had never actually met in person since we formed after our Cornell program and during COVID) invited me for lunch on the 25th down in Beverly Hills. Now normally this would be kind of crazy - it requires air travel to get down there from the San Francisco Bay Area. But in this case, I paused for a second and said,

'Absolutely YES!' - I needed this! I booked my flight and I also decided to stay at the beach for 2 nights in Santa Monica - a place where I used to find a lot of calm and peace of mind when I lived there many years ago.

I won't do an overly long account - but what I decided quite clearly is to take on this weekend with care. After lunch with my friends on Friday, I would head to the beach with no plans other than to be curious and take each moment as it came. I didn't pack fancy clothes, and I wouldn’t aim to look ‘put together’ as would normally be my mode. The only plan I had was to walk down the beach path toward Venice Beach on Saturday and eat great vegan food at a place called Cafe Gratitude.

On Friday night I walked from my hotel to another vegan restaurant I love and I sat at their bar by myself, ordered, chatted with the staff, observed the atmosphere, and connected with a young lady sitting there on her first business trip. Sophia. As it turned out, she is originally from Bernardsville, New Jersey, not too far from where I went to high school, and she lives in Brooklyn now, not far from where I was born. We enjoyed some interesting conversation and I learned more about some of the truly inspiring traits of Gen-Z. It struck me particularly because I am coaching an amazing young lady now who is the same age as Sophia, and they do share an incredible awareness for the world and a sense for the value in finding balance in life.

On Saturday, I walked over 11 miles! I won't cover the whole day, but it was a day that just filled my cup! I just took the day as it presented itself, and made choices along the way to be engaged in my surroundings, and with the people I would meet. I walked the beach in Santa Monica, taking in the sights of the many fitness activities taking place, over to Venice Beach, where I was met with its strong scent of pot and other interesting smells. Then I used my phone GPS to walk over to the Venice canals lined with multi-million dollar homes, and I also saw large homeless encampments before walking

up the gentrified shopping street named after Abbott Kinney, and made my way to the amazing Cafe Gratitude in an older part of Venice. There I met Saadi, working at the front. He is a young man and refugee from Afghanistan. I was waiting for my table for quite a while so we started to chat, and chat some more - as we engaged on more meaningful topics, he became more engaged and asked me questions about my life as he shared some of his. In the end he said he might reach out for tips on writing. He wants to write a book about 3 different types of young Afghan immigrants. I’d love to read that book someday!

As I continued my walk back up the beach toward Santa Monica, I spotted a white Labrador and had to stop the man on his beach walk. 'Can I pet your dog?' Of course, we started chatting about Riley (my Labrador) and his dog Luna, and continued to connect on what I was doing there, and how he lives part time in LA and part time in Hawaii. The man, in his late 30s, is Brian.

While chatting with Brian, it occurred to me that I had spent the day reconnecting with a part of me, a close ally of sorts, that I haven't seen in quite a while - a part of me that almost none of you know: The Wanderer. I remembered that long ago when I was single and living in Los Angeles, I would often go off on a wandering adventure, just taking in the day as it came, noticing the world a bit more clearly. Maybe I would drive aimlessly up the coast only to experience beauty and turn around when it felt like it was time. I caught up with my former partner from my last company today, who reminded me that he recalled a trip we took to Paris a number of years ago for work, and when we arrived, I immediately acclimated by setting out on a solo walk up the Seine to Ile St Louis and some of my favorite districts. I had forgotten that - until today. The Wanderer is a really important part of me and my ability to feel whole.

Anyway, while chatting with Brian, it came to a point where I mentioned something about the days when I was writing about football about 8 years ago, and then he said he used to follow football closely. What team I asked? The Giants. (Wait, what???) Of course, as a life-long Giants fan, I could hardly believe it – I had not mentioned that. A few minutes later we also learned that we both attended to the University of Miami - different years, but mind blown. The synchronicity!

The next day it was time to head back to the airport. Some of you may have seen my note on LinkedIN about my Uber driver, Namara - originally from Ethiopia, 72 years old and retired. He was a Veterinary doctor trained in Hungary, who came to the United States 45 years ago. He loves this country and spoke with me about the opportunities here versus in other countries – even countries where we might think any opportunity might be available for someone. His journey was outstanding and so interesting. I encourage you to read about it in my blog feed.

I will leave you here. But I thought it might be interesting to share with you a bit about a weekend that truly fueled me! I met and connected with 7 interesting people, 4 who I did not know before. And it all happened with a single CHOICE that would have been so easy to blow off as an extravagance, but I listened to my instinct and went with it. My weekend was one of curiosity, connection, authenticity - being true to myself no matter what, and The Wanderer I had missed.

I wish for all of you to stretch, and to make some sort of unusual choice that fuels YOU!

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