Category Archives: Self Improvement

The Alchemist

Many years ago, I received The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho as a gift. Admittedly, I was aprehensive about reading it since I am not a fan of fiction. Usually, I much prefer titles that revolve around the topics of business and self help that I can directly apply to improving myself and my career.

Yet, I picked up The Alchemist and began reading. And, I realized that there was magic locked inside the pages, just waiting to get out. If you’re struggling with your life’s purpose and holding onto a safety net instead of following the signs that have been set out before you, this book can help you break free.

In the introduction of The Alchemist, Coelho states that “We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: “Oh well, I really didn’t want it anyway.” We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey. Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.” Coelho continues on and asks aloud:

You may be wondering, as Coelho does why it is so important to live out our personal calling if we are going to suffer more than other people. He explains that “Because, once we have overcome the defeats – and we always do – we are filled with a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable.”

Santiago, a young shepherd boy has everything he needs; a loyal herd of sheep along with enough food and water. And, he has a fairly consistent existence. But, he feels like there is more out there to discover; there is more to explore in the world. He keeps having a recurring dream of finding treasure near the pyramids but right before finding the exact location, he always wakes up.

So begins a journey full of chance encounters, omens, and meetings with a king, gypsy, monk, an alchemist and more as he tries to uncover a deeper purpose and meaning in his life; his Personal Legend. These signs from the universe come often and he always listens. And, by listening, he sometimes loses everything he owns but quickly gains back more than he started with. He gets robbed, works in a crystal shop, crosses the desert, discovers the love of his life in an oasis and nearly loses his life multiple times but his life is so much richer than the predictable existence he had before.

As he crosses the desert, the boy strikes up a conversation with one of the camel drivers. He relays that “People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want. We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

Sometimes in our lives, we get signs; things happen that we cannot explain. We can choose to listen or to ignore them. In the last few weeks, I have received many signs and instead of brushing them off as I normally would, I am keeping myself open. Events have happened that I cannot fully explain and by accepting them, I am searching for clarity and a deeper meaning.

In life, we are faced with many obstacles and road blocks but one thing I’ve learned is to never shut yourself off. Keep an open mind and an open heart. Have hope even when everything seems hopeless. The power of positive thought can do amazing things.

Allow yourself to find your purpose. Along the way, the journey you will encounter will remind you of why you’re alive in the first place. As the Alchemist says, “If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

We all have a Personal Legend that is waiting to be discovered. Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist didn’t write his first book until the age of 38. Hold on, have faith and see where life takes you.

Readers: Have you received signs in the past and followed them? What was the outcome?

Lifting Weights in The Haunted Mansion

david barton astor gym new york city manhattan

If you know me personally, you’re probably aware that I dread working out. I hate the thought of exercising so much that I just don’t do it. No sports teams, yoga class or jogging around the block for me. The thought of getting sweaty and wearing practical footwear has always repulsed me. Until now.

I had a religious experience. An epiphany. And, it all happened while walking down the street in New York last week. I was with Gala near Astor Place when we noticed some peculiar skeleton chairs in the window of a building, complete with very a gothic & baroque vibe throughout. Was it a boutique? A showroom? A bizarre home decor store? We weren’t really sure so we went in to ask.

david barton astor gym new york city manhattan

Get this….the place turned out to be a GYM. The one place I despise more than anything. And, it was cool. Hands down, it was one of the most fashionable places I’ve ever stepped into. My perceptions of what a gym was supposed to be began to shift.

We requested a tour and the first thing I noticed was the lighting. No fluorescent, unflattering lighting here. Instead, it was a deep pink that resembled a high end night club. We walked past buff guys lifting weights and towards a massive disco ball shaped deejay booth. The disco ball was salvaged from Studio 54. Instead of the usual concrete or formica, the floors were done in beautiful distressed wood.

The space contains multiple levels and on one, we were shown the yoga studio. I’ve never tried yoga, but based on the atmosphere, I’d give it a shot. Why? The very dimly lit room featured an entire wall of candles. Glass doors closed it off from the rest of the gym. It felt like an extremely glamorous cave. I was sold.

david barton astor gym new york city manhattan

The machines throughout looked pristine. No sweat covered handles and sticky seats here. I’d heard horror stories about my friends’ gym experiences in the past but this place seemed nothing like that. I actually felt….relaxed.

david barton astor gym new york city manhattan

The guide took us down a massive white baroque staircase where we were met by bold damask print wallpaper and a naked male statue. I thought it was the perfect mix of glamour and humor.

david barton astor gym new york city manhattan

We then walked into the women’s locker rooms which were basking in neon light and woodgrain lockers. The benches were large pieces of polished wood. Was this really a place for changing clothes? Or, was it a backdrop for a surreal and futuristic photo shoot?

During the tour, we were introduced to the man who owns this gym, along with six other locations, David Barton. He was extremely welcoming and actually in the middle of working out. I love it when the owners of companies are actively involved in the use of their own products.

So, you may still be thinking that a gym is just a gym, no matter what the atmosphere is. But there was one final factor that got me hooked, I promised you: All of the signs, business cards and schedules were done in Helvetica. Seriously. And there’s no denying that I am a sucker for both great interior design and typography.

Find out more about David Barton gyms here. Sweating has never seemed so glamorous!

* Photos courtesy of David Barton Gym

nubby twiglet signature