the power of looking up

Non-coincidences happen all the time. Whether you make it possible to notice them is up to you.

What are non-coincidences? A non-coincidence is a term I coined in Something Like Fate to describe how we are connected in magnificent ways. We are only beginning to understand the forces of energy around us. The Universe works in mysterious ways, but one thing is clear: We are all connected. The more open we are to welcoming in the energy, the more opportunities we have to witness non-coincidences. David Life of Jivamukti Yoga said, “If you believe in coincidence, then you aren’t paying attention.” That quote is included at the beginning of Something Like Fate. Non-coincidences happen when the Universe brings two people, things, or events together in profound ways, both big and small.

Everything is connected...

An example of a small non-coincidence involves Zayn Malik leaving One Direction and my cell phone. How are these two things connected? The day I broke my Guinness World Record lifetime trifecta of never owning a cell phone/TV/microwave by getting my first ever cell phone was March 25, 2015. March 25, 2015 was also the day Zayn left One Direction. See, I knew breaking that Guinness World Record would have disastrous consequences. Just kidding. Sort of. A lot of events happened on that date. There might not be a connection between those two. But I don’t know…part of me feels like this was a non-coincidence reflecting that Zayn and I were both embarking on major changes.

One Direction

There are much larger non-coincidences. Like my Gram dying on my 30th birthday. I had a Knowing she would die on my 30th birthday a long time before she did. Non-coincidence. Then there was the time I took the subway at a time of day I’m never on the subway, a line I rarely take. I was reading while I was waiting for the subway. When the train pulled up, I had a sudden feeling to run ahead to the next car and get on that one instead. So of course an old friend I hadn’t seen in years who doesn’t even live here got on my subway car a few stops later. We would have never seen each other if I hadn’t run ahead to that other car or if I hadn’t looked up from my book. Non-coincidence. Sometimes the Universe does that, pulling people together in ways we don’t even realize to make sure we connect in a way that will help us with the next chapter of our lives. But again, this phenomenon really only happens when at least one of the people involved is open to that positive energy. And that person is looking up.

The more you look up and connect with the world around you, the more you will notice non-coincidences. Like the other day when I ran into a friend on the street. That kind of thing happens all the time in New York. Way more than the probability of those interactions statistically occurring in a city of 8.5 million people. But this wasn’t one of those times. This was a non-coincidence. About half an hour before, I had brought two big bags of donations over to Housing Works, only to be greeted by a locked door and sign in the window saying they were closed unexpectedly. I lugged the bags back home in the heat, bummed that I would have to lug them back another day. I’m one of those people who like to cross things off my to-do list and be done. The day was just challenging me in general and I was feeling scraggly. But as I left my apartment again and headed out for an adventure to hopefully turn things around, I reminded myself that as long as I keep my attitude bright and face the world with smiles and lots of positive energy, the day would get better. Stay strong. Never give up.

Felicity Porter, rooftop

So I was on my way to the Dean and DeLuca from Felicity. I am a hardcore Felicity fangirl. I have lived in New York City for almost 20 years. Yet I’ve never ventured down to the exact Dean & DeLuca where Felicity and Ben worked, even though it’s only like a 20-minute walk from my place. That’s one thing I love about New York. Every day brings the potential to discover something new, even after all this time. My goal was to go there and get back in time for my gym class later that evening. I was waiting for a light to change at 12th Street when, just like that day waiting for the subway I never take at a time I never take it, I had this sudden feeling to turn down the street and head west instead of crossing it to go south. Which is when the non-coincidence happened.

I was about half a block down 12th Street when I heard, “Susane!” I looked up. And there was my gym instructor for the class I was taking that evening. She’s also my friend and I really enjoy talking to her. Fortunately for me, she was looking up and noticed me. I might have walked right past her. While I like looking up at buildings and the sky and stuff, I don’t look up at people I’m passing on the street as much as I probably should. But she was looking up and was also walking down 12th randomly because she was going to walk this whole other way and then switched directions for a reason she couldn’t explain. We stood there and talked for like an hour. The conversation shifted towards a project she’s working on that she needs a translator for. Two good friends of mine own a translation company! I hooked her up with their contact info. That’s a conversation we probably wouldn’t have had at the gym, and it provided her with contacts that could help her in amazing ways. This is the kind of example I’m talking about when I say that looking up opens doors of possibility for you.

You might be wondering how Dean & DeLuca was. Dude, I was bummed. I was expecting to go in and sit at the table where Ben gave Felicity that necklace and have this meta New York City experience. But it wasn’t like that at all. The tables were only brought in for filming the show. That Dean & DeLuca location is actually a grocery store! But the marble countertop at the cashier station was familiar. Same with the placement of the coffee makers. And the view out the window was the same. Of course I documented it for you.

Felicity Dean & DeLuca

Akhmose was another friendly neighbor who looked up and noticed me on the street. He wasn’t even going to walk that way. But it was the second really beautiful day of spring and the trees were calling to him down my street so he went that way. He was just about to take out his phone when something told him not to. Something told him to enjoy the day, be in the Now. I’ve had that same feeling many times before. That’s the Universe telling you to look up. Akhmose looked up and saw me and came up to me like, “Excuse me, but are you an author?” He remembered me from five years ago when we met outside the New York Public Library on 9th Street. He was selling scrolls of encouragements he used to write and decorate. It was one of those New York City moments I love, discovering something new and connecting with someone fabulous, that I documented here on my blog. Akhmose is a motivational artist who went by the name KIMM back then. Now he’s affiliated with The Future Project, encouraging children and teens to live extraordinary lives of passion and purpose.

Maybe one of you reading this post right now will be inspired to connect with The Future Project…which might change your life or the life of someone you know. That’s the magic non-coincidences. That’s the power of looking up. They can have infinite reach.

When you look up, you notice possibilities you otherwise would have missed. You connect with the world around you in a spectacular way. You allow the energy to open doors for you that you didn’t realize even existed. You wake up.

What will you see today?

you are not alone

Thanks to everyone who participated in my Facebook Q&A last week! It was super fun. So fun that I’m planning another one for later this summer with an international giveaway of City Love. Thanks also to No BS Book Reviews for taking it all off in this City Love edition of Novel Nudity. And this Justin’s Book Blog interview in which I was asked only one question: How has your life impacted your writing? I could have rambled forever on that one!

There was one question during the Q&A that I started to answer, but decided to answer more completely here when it was taking up too much time. Catherine S. asked, “What advice do you have for dealing with loneliness?”

I know what it’s like to feel so alone that you can hardy breathe. To feel like no one will ever love you or even understand you. To feel like you will never have a true best friend or find people who are really your people. Feeling alone makes everything in your life an enormous struggle. Things that seem easy for everyone else are almost impossible for you. You feel like you’re living in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language and don’t know the local customs. I wish I could have told myself back then what I know now. But I can tell you, and if you are feeling alone, hopefully it will help.

Here’s the first thing I need you to know: You are not alone. This phrase gets thrown around a lot. Kind of like It gets better and You are loved. These three encouragements would have done pretty much nothing to make me feel better in my teen years. My argument would have shot them down like this: Yes I am totally alone, things getting better later does nothing to help me now, and no one loves me. I felt so trapped in my small world that it was extremely difficult to see the bigger picture.

The thing that helped me survive the most in high school was hope. Hope that I would eventually create a happy life. That life felt like it was a million years away, but I knew it was actually four years away, then three, then two. Senior year was much easier since every experience was the last. The best advice I can offer is to find your hope. What do you hope for that will make your life better? Carry that hope in your heart. Remind yourself of that hope every morning, every night, and as many times during the day as you need to. Believe with everything you are that what you hope for will happen. Hope is a really good reason to keep holding on.

You are the architect of your own destiny. That means whatever you are hoping for is in your hands. Your actions in this present moment are shaping your future life. How will you achieve your most important goals? What can you start doing right now to begin working towards turning your dreams into reality? Identify at least one thing you can do every day that will bring you a step closer to achieving your goals. Then make that action a daily priority. Taking control of the things you can in a situation where so much is out of your control will make you feel more connected to your world, and inspire you to build connections with new people who are on your wavelength.

Books were my best friends in high school. My favorite time of day was after school when I could go home and read on my bed. Books, shows, movies, and of course music saved me. They made me feel less alone. Because even if I was only connecting with characters in books and on TV, that sense of connection and validation helped me feel understood. The work that authors, show writers, directors, and musicians were creating inspired me. They gave me safe places. They gave me a sense of community. Now you can go online and find actual communities of people who love what you do. Find your happy. Let the things that make you happy show you that people are out there who are dealing with the same challenges you are.

Are there already people in your life who want to help you, but you’re not letting them in? I kept my high school friends at a distance. There were so many embarrassing parts of my life I was too busy hiding from my friends to show them the real me. But if I had opened up to them, I would have realized that I was not alone. And I was already loved. And it could have gotten better just by reaching out to the people who were right in front of me.

Volunteer work helped me feel less alone in high school. I was a candy striper and a Girl Scout leader-in-training, both of which gave me a sense of purpose and places to belong. Find your people in the places you love. If you love bookstores, coffeehouses, and parks, your people love them, too. Connect with them. Build new friendships. Do not let fear hold you back. A world of possibility is waiting for you to discover abundant happiness. What are you waiting for?

You are loved.

It gets better.

You are not alone.

winning

Ginormous congrats to the 11 winners of my 8th Annual Ginormous Contest! And thanks to everyone who spread the city love on Twitter. You guys freaking rule.

Here are the winners:

Bluedog649|Emily – @Bluedog649
Jennifer Y. – @2many2read
iHeartBigBooks – @iHeartBigBooks
Mariella Hunt – @mariellahunt
Roousy Camacho – @Simply_Roousy
Becoming Bookish – @BecomingBookish
Elise – @NerdgirlAZ
Erica Hubbard – @mimi_hubbard
Teen Book Hoarder – @teenbookhoarder
Lindsey Brown – @lindseyb423
Mackenzie – @ImMyOwnHipster

I also have to give a shout-out to Renee C., who rocks her dazzling artistic flair for every contest. How cute are these City Love earrings she made?

City Love earrings by Renee C.

Some other winning things have been going down this week. Like fresh watermelon juice is finally in season! You know my addiction to summer fruit is fierce and unwavering. All winter I crave berries and melon and peaches and plums and nectarines and cherries so hard I don’t even know what to do with myself. The struggle is real, people. I’m so addicted to watermelon juice that I had to make Rosanna from City Love addicted to watermelon juice, too. When I was at Chelsea Market with my friend Paula and she saw this sign, I freaked out:

Fresh watermelon juice at Chelsea Market

See, this is why it’s good to put your dreams out into the universe. Paula and I were having lunch at Bubby’s (which I adore so much I featured Bubby’s in book one and book two of the City Love series) right before and I was telling her how excited I was about watermelon. Especially the ginormous ones you can get for like $3.99 at Wegmans. If I hadn’t been telling her how stoked I was for my summer of watermelon juice, she wouldn’t have said anything about that sign. Want to know what I look like spazzing out over the first watermelon juice of the season?

Susane Colasanti loves watermelon juice

Oh yeah. Summer is ON.

In other good news, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has awarded me with RAKtivist status! The definition of RAKtivist:

You are a kindness rockstar. A random acts of kindness activist. You truly believe that kindness can change the world and you exemplify that in your day-to-day life.

We participate in virtual kindness raids in our own communities and on social. I am feeling some serious warm fuzzy action coming on! Want to join the kindness party? You can find out about becoming a RAKtivist here.

I will leave you with this warm fuzzy, spotted from the High Line. Three more of my favorite things…all together. If you believe that love is the answer, you are totally winning.

The High Line, Love Is the Answer

Spread the city love, friendly neighbors <3

david letterman is why i’m here

It all started with a pencil.

Twelve was an extremely difficult age for me, but it was also an age when I figured a lot of stuff out. I knew I wanted to be a science teacher when I was 12. I knew my purpose in life as a grownup would be to help teens in any way I could. And I knew that I didn’t belong in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, in a small town at a school where I was bullied every day for being an outsider. My true home was out there somewhere. Not stuck in the middle of the woods, completely isolated and feeling so alone. I was determined to find the place where I truly belonged.

I stayed with my grandparents most summers of my teen life. The summer I was 12, I was staying up late watching The Tonight Show with Gram. Gram understood that I was a night person. After Johnny Carson said goodnight, a show called Late Night with David Letterman came on. I asked Gram who David Letterman was. She said, “He’s kind of like Johnny, but wackier.” Anyone who was wacky, zany, dorktastic, a hardcore nerd, or proud to be original in their own quirky way was a winner in my book. So I kept watching. Dave threw a pencil at the camera. He made weird faces. He threw a pencil at the window behind him with a sound effect of glass shattering.

David Letterman instantly became my hero.

I obsessed over Late Night that whole first summer, learning Dave’s tricks and idiosyncrasies. Connecting to things he said in a way that made it clear he was my people, and gave me hope that more of my people were out there. The energy of New York City was palpable. It was an energy that radiated from the screen, an energy that made me feel alive. New York City was clearly my destiny. It was my true home. It was the place where everything that made me different would make me shine. The New York City energy Dave showed me was a drug that kept me going all through high school as I carried hope in my heart that one day I would live there. I looked forward to the time when I could be free to be the best version of myself. As a reminder, I put a Late Night tee on my koala bear Chez, who is featured in When It Happens in the same tee. Chez is an attention hog who has photo bombed several book giveaway pics over the years:

Chez with Susane Colasanti books

I taped Dave’s show every night. The first thing I did when I got home from school was get my Late Night notebook, rewind the tape, and watch Dave show me more of what I had to look forward to. For the length of his show, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I was in on the joke. I was one with Dave’s community. I wrote down the title of every Top Ten list, every description of “And now, a man who…”, and lines that made me laugh. One was, “I’ll give you 500 dollars if you let me take my teeth out.” I don’t know why that line resonated with me. Probably just because it was so weird. I wrote it on the top of an algebra quiz in 8th grade because my 8th grade algebra teacher seemed like the kind of dude who would watch Dave. Dave’s lines became like this secret language I could use with certain grownups to make me feel included in something. But my teacher didn’t get it. He gave the quiz to a guidance counselor who called me into her office and asked if I was okay.

Of course I wasn’t okay. I was miserable. But every day was one day closer to living in New York City. One day closer to when I could create a happy life for myself and start turning my big dreams into reality. And that made surviving worth it. When I say that David Letterman is why I’m here, I don’t just mean here in New York City. I mean here. Along with the books that saved me, he helped me survive the worst time of my life. He showed me a reason to keep holding on.

When I was fourteen, I sent a postcard in for Late Night tickets. They said it would take like a year to get your tickets. The first tickets I received were for April 24, 1989, one week before my 16th birthday:

Late Night and Late Show with David Letterman tickets

As you can see from these Late Night tickets (which are so vinatge that the NBC building wasn’t called 30 Rock, or even the GE Building, but the RCA Building) , anyone under the age of 16 would not be admitted. But there was no way I wasn’t getting in. Fortunately this was back in the day when ID wasn’t checked. They let me and my friend in and it was a completely overwhelming experience that made me even more determined to live in New York City.

I became obsessed with New York. The opener of Late Night started by zooming in across the water to the Twin Towers. The Twin Towers became a symbol of hope for me and the focus of every sketch, painting, clay impression, collage, and photographic paper etching I made in art class. I would go to the library at lunch and research New York, learn its buildings and streets, draw maps of the Village. Also in that Late Night opener was a part where the camera zooms through Old Town Bar. Of course I now live on the same street as Old Town Bar. Love that full-circle non-coincidence.

My inspiration for writing So Much Closer came straight from all of this. So Much Closer is the story of Brooke, a Jersey girl who dreams of living in New York City and finally has a chance to move there. This is why I acknowledged Dave in So Much Closer. Brooke wears the same Late Night tee Chez does and nails a Letterman question at trivia night. My publicist sent Dave’s personal assistant a copy of the book. She also included a letter from me in which I thanked Dave for changing my life and making the world a better, smarter, kinder place. See that Late Show ticket from May 4, 2015? Dave’s assistant remembered me from So Much Closer and was super generous in giving me tickets for his final month of shows. I was nervous about picking which day I wanted because it was impossible to know who would be on. But it turns out that I picked the best possible date. Because who was Dave’s guest on May 4?

President Barack Obama and David Letterman, May 4, 2015

Oh, you know. Just President Barack Obama. The Universe was totally on my side.

One of the things I respected most about Dave is his passion for improving public understanding of science, particularly with respect to global warming and environmental preservation. Dave had on physicists, environmentalists, and climatologists in an effort to help his viewers understand the detrimental effects we are having on our planet and how we can all be a part of the solution. Dave even had on my old boss from NASA, Dr. James Hansen, who was rocking the same Birkenstocks he always wore to work. But that’s what was cool about Dave’s show. It wasn’t about glitzy appearances and superficial interviews. It was about the heart and soul of us. It was about the truth, and innovation, and making a difference. David Letterman made this world a better place. And I know he will continue to do so, whichever path he chooses to take next.

This is how a guy as weird as I was showed me where I belonged. By dropping watermelon off the roof, crushing car doors in a 90-ton hydraulic press, with “I be hypnotized” and asking what else Just Bulbs has and rocking those Adidas with blue on the back and whipping all of those pencils at the camera. David Letterman showed me that it is okay to be exactly who you are. More than okay, actually. He showed me that by being exactly who you are, you can inspire more people than you’d ever dreamed and help others in ways you can’t even imagine.

Thirty years ago I was a 12-year-old outsider searching for my true home. David Letterman showed me that New York City was my destiny. Thanks for showing this lost girl where she belonged, Dave. Thanks for helping me survive the worst time of my life. And thanks for showing all the outsiders that they are not alone <3