My Favorite Podcasts

When I first discovered podcasts, it was a revelation.

Rather than listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio, or to NPR (which I loved but rarely connected to the material), or to the Dan Patrick Show (unfortunately interrupted by seemingly endless commercial breaks), podcasts provided a deliberate source of education, an entertaining means of distraction and nourishment.

Today, podcasts have become an integral part of my life. I listen to them while walking to class, while on a run, when getting ready, or during pre-bed stretching sessions. They provide food for thought, helpful advice, radical ways of reframing the mind, and various perspectives on a wide range of topics. Podcasts have taught me how to think and have made me more open-minded; they have affected how I live, which books I read, and the movies I watch. In short, podcasts have infiltrated every aspect of my life, and I am eternally grateful for their influence.

Below are some of my favorites, but there are so many I have yet to explore…

  • The Tim Ferriss Show–one of my original favorites. Tim interviews experts and top-performers in various fields. Some of my favorite guests include Peter Attia, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Adam Grant, Safi Bahcall, Kevin Rose…so many good episodes! Tim is also raw and authentic, contributing so much wisdom and insight.
  • Making Sense–Sam Harris is perhaps one of the most intelligent, articulate people I have ever listened to. On his podcasts, he interviews journalists, mediation teachers, psychologists, psychedelic therapy experts, and so many other fascinating people. It can sometime get a bit political, but Sam’s thoughts and insights are worth paying careful attention to.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience–Joe Rogan is a masterful–and hilarious–interviewer. He is curious and friendly, never afraid to admit when he does not know or understand something. I admire his humility and open mind. His guest list is extremely diverse, ranging from comedians to actors to fitness junkies to nutrition experts to journalists to tech people to entrepreneurs…I tend to pick and choose the episodes that seem the most interesting to me, although I have often stumbled upon some unexpected gems I would not have expected to enjoy.
  • The Drive–Peter Attia, a renowned longevity doctor, interviews a host of people with the aim of increasing one’s lifespan and health span. Guests include physicians, nutrition experts, and exercise experts, but also people who have overcome tough mental challenges–such as surviving the 2009 forced landing of a US Airways flight in the Hudson River, for instance–or who have found ways to optimize their emotional wellbeing. Peter Attia is admirably self-aware and curious, curating a goldmine of extremely valuable information for how to live a healthy life.
  • The Kevin Rose Show–Kevin Rose, a friend of Tim Ferriss, has many guests similar to those who appear on The Tim Ferriss Show. I appreciate Rose’s genuine curiosity in addition to his combination of more science-backed interviews with ones that incorporate elements of Eastern forms of medicine. This is a relatively recent discovery, and there are certainly several gems!

Guide to New York City Part IV: TriBeCa

During my first year living in New York, I rarely visited Tribeca. I knew it was largely residential, with many luxury apartments as well as families. I also knew that it used to be an industrial wasteland–an unattractive and undesirable area of the city. This changed, however, in large part due to Robert De Niro, the incredibly talented polymath who invested in Tribeca property and subsequently transformed the area into a trendy, hip, and bustling neighborhood. I am not too well-versed on the subject, but if I am not mistaken, I believe that his restaurant, Nobu, helped attract an A-list crowd, which thus contributed to Tribeca’s glamorous makeover. My family and I had the privilege of staying here prior to my move back home for the summer. I discovered just how fun Tribeca was and how much more there was to explore. Bits and pieces revealed themselves to me during the year, when I met my brother for dinner, or enjoyed the final day of the Tribeca Film Festival (which just entailed viewing a bunch if movies at a nice movie theatre near Battery Park–not what I expected, but fun nonetheless). Staying here, however, elucidated Tribeca’s fun character, one I believed to be nonexistent, or at least banal in comparison to other neighborhoods such as the East Village or the Lower East Side. Once again, New York proved me utterly and completely wrong.

The Greenwich Hotel: Robert De Niro’s charming, cozy, and delightfully fancy hotel in Tribeca, complete with funky art, a lovely courtyard, a delicious restaurant, and impeccable design. The hotel room doors are wooden with a large knob in the center, and rooms house old books and vintage cameras. Details like these make the hotel so special! The staff is really friendly as well.

Locanda Verde: delicious rustic Italian restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel. Super fun and happening!

Tiny’s: a truly tiny restaurant that is at once intimate, romantic, refined, and delicious. Their thoughtful, well-composed menu contains ample mouth-watering options.

The Greek: probably one of my favorite restaurants in the city. The Greek serves authentic Greek food with a focus on seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. They have an outstanding natural wine list, and most of the staff are in fact Greek!

inside the Greek

Two Hands: though I have not been to their Tribeca location, I have been to their Nolita one, and it was delicious! This healthy aussie café serves up some delicious food with plenty of options for those with any dietary restrictions or those looking for a meal a little more on the healthy side.

Guide to New York City Part III: West Village & Greenwich Village

To be completely honest, I am unsure as to where the West Village ends and Greenwich Village begins. I have a general idea of the area each neighborhood inhabits, but the exact locations and the precise boundaries will likely always remain blurred in my mind. These neighborhoods, to me, do not possess a history that stretches as far back as the East Village and the Lower East Side, for instance, where old tenements and family-run businesses contribute to their unique character–one marked by the stories of the immigrants who moved here long ago, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is not to say that the West Village and Greenwich Village are any less special, however, for they possess their own idiosyncrasies. Their history, too, is rich: one may think of the Stonewall riots of 1969, or perhaps the lively music scene, or the tendency of aspiring artists–poets, authors, painters, etc.–to gravitate towards this eclectic area of the city. Indeed, these villages harbor a different narrative, but one that is nonetheless rich with culture and art, as well as the ethos of self-expression and acceptance.

Via Carota : a no reservations spot that is at once rustic, refined, lively, and delicious. Expect to wait, but it is definitely worth it!

Buvette: very French and very delicious. A petit gem owned by Jody Williams, who also helped found Via Carota, along with her partner, Rita Sodi.

Cap Beauty: a beautiful all-natural, non-toxic beauty shop with a friendly staff. They also offer wonderful facials and other treatments at their spa!

Barre3: an amazing exercise studio in the West Village. I love Barre3, and being able to practice at this studio was fun, fulfilling, stress-relieving, and provided a much-needed sweat! Be sure to check out their merchandise selection as well as other products such as candles and skin stuff.

Culture: a delicious frozen yogurt shop that focuses on high-quality ingredients and milk from local New York cows.

Loring Place: a trendy spot that focuses on fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. The chef is an abc kitchen alum, so you know it is good and somewhat healthyish.

Clover Grocery: a wellness mecca that provides healthy snacks, condiments, supplements, skin care products, and more. They also have a smoothie/juice bar, though I have yet to try it.

Hemp Garden: they have several locations throughout the city, but I have only been to the one on Cornelia Street. They provide a vast selection of all natural products–creams, lotions, tinctures, gummies, bars, etc.–with the benefits of hemp and/or CBD. The staff is really friendly as well.

Goods for the Study: the BEST shop for all things paper/school/office/writing related, including pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, notepads, and more!

Pink Olive: such a fun shop for gifts and other little treasures such as fun cards, prints, books, notebooks, and so much more. Rifle Paper Co. is a common theme.

Wallflower: a tiny, romantic, chic, and charming restaurant with a small but delicious menu. The perfect place for an amazing meal in an intimate setting.

Sedona, Arizona: the Ultimate Weekend Getaway

The United States possesses its own unique collection of hidden gems. One such place is Sedona, Arizona. Though it is not hidden, per se, it provides a welcome respite from the busyness of one’s day-to-day routine.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring aspect of this southwestern sanctuary is its stunning red rocks. Layers upon layers of glorious red, orange, and tan hues color the cliffs and spires that surround the town. My family stayed in Boynton Canyon, so we were actually surrounded by the rocks, which rose to impressive heights all around us. We had to crane our necks to capture the canyon’s entirety.

The geological splendors of Sedona also serve as an intriguing link to the past. One can only imagine how old the layers of rock at the bottom of the cliffs are. As time progressed, more layers were continuously added. The spires and unique formations were created from years and years of weather, shaped by the wind and rain. Pondering the history of one’s physical surroundings is certainly exciting, especially when the evidence of aging is so visible.

The Enchantment Resort, approximately 15 minutes from town and tucked away in the canyon, was an absolute delight. The distance from town was in fact an advantage, adding an element of privacy and intimacy. Large windows allow guests to fully take in the splendor of their surroundings while tasteful southwestern décor adds to the hotel’s allure. The Enchantment also boasts delicious, sophisticated cuisine.

Mii Amo Café serves fresh, healthy, and seasonally-inspired dishes in an unfortunately cafeteria-like setting. While it is a perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, I would forgo the café for a more elegant option come dinnertime. This place is more intended for pre- and post-spa nourishment.

Tii Gavo is a casual restaurant offering delicious food with a nod to traditional southwestern flavors. A good place for groups, picky eaters (like myself) can find a dish to their liking while sports fans enjoy the latest game at the bar.

Che Ah Chi, the resort’s signature restaurant, serves breakfast and dinner in a rather hotel-like atmosphere but, at breakfast, the views make up for it and at night, the room is dimly lit. Perhaps I am being slightly harsh, as the restaurant certainly is elegant, but it would be even more so with a more modern and fresh makeover. The food, however, certainly steals the show and quickly eclipses any ambience-related qualms. Che Ah Chi celebrates Native American and southwestern flavors, especially with their divine vegetable dishes. Unfortunately, dessert was slightly lacking, as the ice cream was a bit gummy and unimpressive flavor-wise.

If you do decide to venture out into town for an evening, the Elote Café is an excellent option. The atmosphere is certainly nothing special, but the liveliness of the place more than makes up for it (they take no reservations, so expect a LOT of people and long wait times), and the food is more than worth the daunting wait. I have always possessed a deep distaste for (Americanized) Mexican food, as I always viewed it a heavy and bloat-inducing. The Elote Café converted me. While the restaurant is certainly still indulgent, the food is bright, flavorful, modern, and absolutely delicious. There are more options than tacos and enchiladas. I ordered the sea bass adobo–a perfectly tender, and very spicy, grilled fillet of fish with salsa verde and pickled onions. Everything from the guacamole to the vanilla agave ice cream was perfectly executed. Each component of the meal had so much thought put into it, making it a truly satisfying and memorable meal.

Indulging in a spa treatment is also a lovely way to fully immerse yourself in the wellness-y vibe of Sedona. The Mii Amo Spa, though world-renowned and highly acclaimed, was unfortunately underwhelming. The treatments themselves, as well as the kind and amiable therapists, were outstanding, but the physical atmosphere of the spa was tired and outdated. Significant improvements could have been made regarding the spa waiting area, which was rather small. Things one would expect from an award-winning spa, such as cleanliness, aesthetically-pleasing massage rooms, and appropriately warm hot tub temperatures, seemed to go overlooked. I know how blessed I am to even be able to go to a spa. While back from college for Winter Break, a massage was a lovely–and much appreciated–treat, but for the exorbitant spa prices, however, the physical atmosphere was lacking.

Sedona is certainly a lovely place to visit. I was taken aback by its beauty, as I was not expecting such vividly-colored, nor beautifully shaped, rocks. The nature alone makes Sedona an extraordinary getaway, but the people, hotels, cuisine, and spas add a unique element that renders it even more enjoyable.

Winter Self-Care Products*

Self-care is an essential aspect to one’s overall health and wellbeing. With the upcoming Holiday Season and chilly weather, personal wellness could not be more important. Listed below are products that will inspire both an internal and external glow, as well as soothe the body during these wintry months.

Kopari Coconut Melt: This organic coconut oil is meant to be used as a moisturizer. It is perfect for hands and legs–commonly dry areas during this time of year. Kopari is 100% natural and smells divine, making it the perfect addition to one’s self-care repertoire.

Saje’s Sleep Well Oil: This oil is perfect for facilitating a sense of calm prior to bed. It is best to roll it on the inner wrists, the bottom of the feet, the temples, and behind the earlobes. After doing so, breathing in the oil’s lovely lavender-chamomile-valerian scent will help promote an even more restful sleep.

Hemp Garden’s Elevate CBD Lotion: This quaint shop on Cornelia Street sells products containing hemp or CBD, including lotion, candies, and bars. The Elevate lotions contain CBD and are perfect for soothing fatigued muscles. The lotion physically relaxes the body and can facilitate a deeper, more restorative sleep.

The Base Collective’s Magnesium Oil Spray: This spray works similarly to the CBD lotion in that it, too, provides relief for sore or fatigued muscles. The calming effect of magnesium can also help with sleep.

Live-Live & Organic’s Bee Yummy Skincare Line: Live-Live & Organic is a lovely health food/skin care store in the East Village. Its Bee Yummy products contain natural ingredients such as wildflower honey and royal jelly to promote healthy skin. The Bee Yummy Skinfood and Honey Mask are particularly divine.

Marie Veronique’s Gentle Gel Cleanser: This cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin. After using it, one’s face feels soft, clean, and moisturized. It also smells lovely and lasts for a considerably long time, as a single pump will suffice for a thorough and indulgent clean.

*Please note that these product recommendations are based upon my personal experiences. Everyone’s bodies and skin types are different and may react differently. Please know, however, that I have personally tested every one of these products and love all of them. If you decide to try some of these products for yourself, please do enjoy.

Aussie Cafés of NYC

It is officially Fall here in New York City, and with this particularly cozy season comes a bout of chilly weather and a plunge in temperatures. Though the cool and crisp air is certainly refreshing and only adds to the excitement of the upcoming Holiday season, it is nevertheless desirable to experience some warm and summery vibes.

Luckily, the city’s latest gastronomic trend has helped combat the blues that people may experience with such a drastic weather change. Who better than the Aussies to add some warmth during these upcoming wintry months?

Australian cafés seem to have become the new “hotspot” for New Yorkers seeking a relatively healthy, but slightly indulgent, meal or snack during these cooler days. Two Australian restaurants in particular have been able to fully deliver on everything that one might expect, including delicious food, incredibly friendly staff, and a comforting, yet aesthetically pleasing, atmosphere.

In the heart of SoHo, Ruby’s Café offers a bright and airy sanctuary for a leisurely breakfast or lunch amidst a much-needed break from one’s shopping endeavors. The menu is diverse, making it the perfect spot for a group with varying tastes. Complete with a vast selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, pastas, and “brekkie” items, Ruby’s Café can satisfy the pickiest eater while also pleasing that family member or friend who couldn’t care less about the food’s nutritional value.

What to order:

The kale salad is delicious but also indulgent. The crispy quinoa adds a satisfying crunch element. It is even more delicious with a side of avocado, for it makes the dish more substantial and also provides a dose of healthy fats.

The roasted Brussels sprouts were good, and slightly sweet, but they could have been far better had they been crispier. This dish had a funky acidic/sweet element which rendered it unique in comparison to traditional roasted brussels sprouts, although I prefer the latter to the former.

The pasta dishes looked heavenly. Though I did not order any pasta, several tables around me did. Each dish was colorful and satisfying to look at, especially with the extremely generous pile of grated parmesan cheese that crowned some of the customers’ glutenous meals.

A more homey and genuine Australian café, called Good Thanks, is located in the Lower East Side, just a few doors down from Russ & Daughter’s Café. The staff here was refreshingly genuine, kind, and attentive. There were some Aussies at Ruby’s, but it seemed that everyone working here was an Aussie, and the traditional Australian friendliness definitely showed–more so than at Ruby’s.

The food at Good Thanks is absolutely delicious. It is not fussy, but everything is made with the utmost care and is presented in a way that resembles an unpretentious piece of art. The micro greens that adorn the seasonal fruit bowl–which comes in a beautiful shallow wooden bowl–as well as the perfectly poached eggs on the avocado toast, are but one example of the admirable amount of thought put into each dish.

Their small wooden tables, ceramic plates, and quaint carafes of lemon water all add to the warmth and coziness one feels upon entering, but Good Thanks is not just another trendy café that mindlessly grasps onto fleeting trends, hoping to stay afloat in New York’s culinary battlefield. They are authentic and genuine. They take no shortcuts and ensure that everything–from the flavor to the atmosphere to the presentation– is executed mindfully and purposefully. The staff treats their customers like old friends, but a strong familial-like bond is evident among the staff members themselves.

The congenial atmosphere is reason enough to visit this LES gem, but the food is truly impeccable.

What to order:

Any of the egg dishes were delicious. I ordered two poached eggs with avocado and smoked salmon. Just be sure that, if you want to skip the toast that accompanies the eggs, to ask specifically for no bread. The salmon was not overpowered by salt, as many varieties unfortunately are, while the avocado was perfectly ripe and the eggs deliciously jammy.

My sister ordered the homemade, gluten-free banana bread, which came with a side of spiced butter. The bread, appearing gloriously dense and moist, was bejeweled with banana chunks and was, according to her, sinfully delicious.

Though I don’t drink coffee, my dad does and is rather particular about what constitutes a good cappuccino. He certainly expressed high approval of Good Thanks’ version of the classic café essential.

These two Aussie cafés are worth a visit–especially Good Thanks. In an age defined by ruthless culinary competition and stuffy restaurants lacking any character, Ruby’s Café and Good Thanks proved to be the perfect breaths of fresh air.

Natural Skincare

Our skin, the body’s largest organ, is constantly bombarded with myriad chemicals and pollutants, especially when living in a large city like New York. Because of the seemingly constant daily exposure to harmful substances, it is best to avoid skin products that would only cause further damage. The modern skincare industry produces countless products that are rife with harmful chemicals. Our skin is able to absorb topical products, so it is crucial that one takes into account the body as a whole when pondering various skincare avenues. Luckily, there are many natural ingredients that greatly benefit the skin. Listed below are some key ingredients that can be uses to care for the skin in the healthiest, most wholesome manner possible. Each ingredient is a nutrient powerhouse and will flood your skin with nutritional benefits. Self-care is essential, and the skin is indeed a major part of it.

Raw Honey

-honey contains antibacterial properties and aids in the skin’s pH regulation. It also helps regulate the production of the skin’s natural oils, which, when disrupted, can cause acne, oiliness, and dryness

Matcha

-matcha is rich in chlorophyll, which helps slow the growth of anaerobic bacteria. Its caffeine content also aids in the tightening of the skin and shrinking of pores

Apple Cider Vinegar

-apple cider vinegar’s pH is very similar to that of the skin’s, thus helping to keep it in check

Cucumber & Mint

-both cucumber and mint aid in reducing redness and inflammation. As an added bonus, cucumber seeds contain Vitamin E and potassium, therefore delivering essential nutrients to the skin

Blackberries

-blackberries are an extremely good source of antioxidants which protect the cells from free radicals. Free radicals are produced as a result of radiation exposure, pollutants such as smoke, and the breaking down of food and pose a great threat to the health of the skin

Incorporating these ingredients into one’s skincare routine will undoubtedly benefit the skin in myriad ways. They are a welcome alternative to the many chemical-laden commercial products on the market. All of these ingredients are edible, and simply eating them is a powerful first step towards taking better care of your skin. However, to further reap their benefits, topical application is highly effective. For ingredients that are slightly more difficult to apply manually, there are several vehicles that aid in facilitating the process, such as natural Greek yogurt. One can mix any of these ingredients into the yogurt to create a more economical way to apply them to the skin. Raw honey is another useful vehicle as are smashed banana or avocado. Hopefully these ingredients will bring you much joy. Please always remember the importance of self care and how our bodies always welcome a respite from the noise and pollution of modern life.

For further information and inspiration regarding all-natural skincare, the blogs Kale & Caramel, The Beauty Chef, and Hello Glow are all lovely resources. Much of the information in this article was inspired by their wisdom and provided an abundance of knowledge to aid in natural skin care.

Home

Everyone is well aware that one’s home is something far different than a house.

is it a thing at all?

what does the word “home” encompass? what does it include?

for many, home produces feelings of warmth, comfort, nostalgia, security

for others it conjures up memories that have long been repressed.

for me, home is a source of light and love. it is grounding and evokes feelings of utter bliss.

my home is not only a place. it includes tranquil mountains and their quaint brooks;

the lush environment and its call to deer, squirrels, foxes, bears, owls;

the orange and red leaves in the fall, enveloping the town in a blanket of fiery hues;

the silent first snow, validating our excitement that winter has finally arrived.

it includes an intimate community of diverse individuals united by their love of the town and each other;

my family sharing our meals after a hectic day apart;

the smell of fresh vegetables roasting in the oven;

the softness of my bed and the gift of its warmth;

all this, and more, constitutes my home–an indefinable term, as it is simply too beautifully complicated to be compressed into a single definition.

home–everything that brings me back to my roots, reminding me that I am never truly alone.

La Monde Nostalgique

(Above: Roots and Tree Trunks by Vincent Van Gogh)

What is it about weather that evokes such a powerful emotional response when reflecting on the past?

The view out of the window of crispy leaves dancing in a sudden gust of warm, early-autumn wind. The late afternoon sun rays illuminating such a spectacle.

Falling asleep to the soft whisper of raindrops knocking on the roof and walls. Sometimes the rain would shout rather than whisper, but regardless of the tone, a feeling of total serenity ensued.

Playing with the dollhouse in the soft evening light of the Fall, the lamp providing just enough visual clarity so as not to disrupt the cozy and incredibly secure atmosphere of the room.

Waking to the crisp chill of the Winter air. An extra blanket is needed, yes, but the characteristic precursor to a new season is a welcome one–only increasing one’s sense of intimate security.

The soft blue evening light of autumn combined with the cozy glow of the living room lamps.

The gentle breeze tickling one’s face during the final days of summer.

The vast blanket of snow enveloping the surrounding environment.

The lush vegetation and its beautiful cycle of renewal through unique transitory phases.

The sound of birds chirping early in the morning, or of owls calling to each other in the night.

What is it about the natural world that evokes such strong feelings of nostalgia, producing and even stronger and more intimate connection to the memories which we hold so dear?

Love Letter to a Friend

As you embark on your journey, I hope for nothing but the best for you. This is where you are meant to be, where you are meant to go, for the future will present you with an infinite number of new and exciting possibilities.

Now you will not have to engage in mundane things that provide no mental stimulation. You will not have to spend time with people who drain your energy and exhaust your emotional and energetic reserves. Instead, you will finally be able to feed your soul with the profound adventure it has always craved.

This wanderlust has been waiting for you since the day you were born. You were born an explorer, a writer, a poet, and free spirit. You were born to wander and wonder–to ponder the many mysteries of life that many people are simply too afraid to consider.

Yours in an impeccable mind–the perfect combination of passion, spontaneity, creativity, work ethic, and drive. You, my dear, are a beautifully unique soul. Never in my life have I met someone like you.

I cannot articulate in writing, or words for that matter, the profound extent to which you have influenced my life. The way you have spoken to me in difficult times, the way in which you made me laugh or cry tears of joy, the way you have inspired me, and the way in which you facilitated a better relationship with myself have left me in a state of awe at your infinite beauty and goodness.

You, dear friend, have aided me in letting down my suffocating guard which prohibited me from enjoying life. You have burst open the steel door which had remained locked for too long, revealing a world of beauty that I could have never imagined.

You are my ultimate role model. I can only hope that one day, I will have the privilege of being half as free, confident, beautiful, strong, creative, artistic, brave, intelligent, and curious as you. I love everything about you, and anyone who doesn’t is not worth your precious time.

I cannot conceal my excitement when I ponder where you will go in life. Deep within, I sense how special you are and that whatever you accomplish will be deeply incredible and unparalleled.

Thank you for absolutely everything, dear friend. My love for you cannot be described, for it is simply too strong to even attempt to explain it. Nor can I accurately express my gratitude for you and everything you have taught me. I will miss you dearly, but I know that this is not a goodbye.

You are one of the few people in my life with whom I feel a deep connection. No distance can sever this unique bond. In fact, I believe that our journeys will only strengthen it.

So, please don’t forget to share your story with me over some Earl Grey some day….

I love you.

-M