A Day Trip to the TWA Hotel @ JFK Airport

July 26, 2019

Travel, specifically air travel, has always induced anxiety for me.  There is the packing, setting up a ride to get to the airport on time, self check-ins, passport/boarding pass/buggage claim slips, getting through the humiliating process of TSA pat down, then finding the gate and then waiting to board. For all of those reasons, I never imagined heading to JFK airport for reasons of leisure and team building would ever be possible.  That was until the TWA Hotel opened this summer!  For the past two years or so I have made a very conscious effort to create experiences for my team that we can share together.  I understand how important it is for employees to feel valued and invested in.  It has become paramount in my management approach.  We have been in a state of flux and there is a lot of tension and dissatisfaction so it can be hard to remain motivated.  I myself have fallen victim to this cycle and in an effort to remove myself from that never ending cycle I decided to focus on other's experiences.  It was new to my division and me so I started small, at a staff meeting I asked everyone to share their birthdays with me and kept record of it.  When someone's birthday rolled around I went out and purchased a cake, I tried making the first one and that didn't go so well.  😓   Making a cake means more and if you can swing it after work go for it! I opted to buy my cakes after that first failed attempt.  It was an opportunity to get all of us in a space to celebrate someone we worked alongside everyday.  It was a huge hit!  That summer I floated the idea of a staff field trip after attending a lecture given by the owner of the Brooklyn Grange (it is an urban farm located on the roof of an old industrial building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard).  I thought this would be a great way to get out of the office and experience something together.  That was a hit and before the trip was over they were already thinking about our next trip.  The following winter I initiated a staff game day!  Everyone was asked to bring in their favorite board or card game, we would order lunch and play a few games before we broke for the weekend.  I can't begin to tell you how this has helped with our morale, our communication, our understanding of one another and our overall experience.  At the end of the spring, staff were already talking about where we might go this summer and after an email poll with two options (this got the buzz going and smiles on everyone's faces excited for results)the new TWA Hotel was hands down their top choice.  My amazing coworker and friend, arranged transportation to and from, a private tour of the facilities and lunch by the infinity pool located on the roof of the hotel!  It was an epic experience and I thought sharing this might give you a few ideas.  You don't have to be a manager to pitch the idea of a team building experience, you can float the idea at your next staff meeting with your boss, or get some buy in from a few coworkers and share this post and my reasons if necessary.  Trust me when I tell you it is worth the investment, we have never been a more cohesive and productive team!  Here are a few pics from our visit.

Did you know some of their uniforms were designed by Valentino and Ralph Lauren??  Ahh back to a time when flying was glamorous. 

The Connie was an actual TWA plane with a long history including some drug smuggling..it is now a bar! Oh say hi to the Team!

Every detail was tended to, these light fixtures are complementary to the bar stools used throughout the lounge area.

The hotel is located across from the JetBlue Terminal.  The hotel offers overnight accommodations, but also day passes so guests can visit and use their amenities.  They have two restaurants, a coffee bar, a martini room (sunken red room pictured above), they have shops, a gym, event space and conference rooms and of course their infinity pool overlooking the tarmac.  Vallet parking is available, I spent about 4 hours there and parking with tip came up to about $50, that is steep for a day visit but I felt it was money well spent.  The vallet takes your cellphone number and sends you a text with a link, when you are ready to leave follow the link pay for your parking and when you head downstairs your car will be sitting out front.  Done.  It was seamless which I like.  The pool is heated in the winter so is open 365 days a year.  Rates are very reasonable and I just think it is worth experiencing just once or more but at least once!  I am definitely going to book a room for hubby and I in the next few weeks.  Here is a link to their website https://www.twahotel.com to book a room, or a day pass.  

Thanks for reading!  

Do you like these kind of "be a tourist in your own city" posts?  Do you like the work advise I shared?  Please let me know in the comments below.  

Until next time.  XOXO

A Mother's Day Message to My Estranged Mother

May 12, 2019

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day mom.  It has been a year and 6 months since we last spoke. The last thing you said to me was, “you are a lousy mother”. Those words cut deep, not because I believed them but because you said them to hurt me.  You actually set out to hurt me and I never really understood why.  You didn’t realize at that moment that you were my mother and that was a lousy thing to say to your own child.  When it has come to me, you seemed to always believe that I could handle your unfiltered wrath.  Ours has always been a very difficult relationship but this, for me, was the last straw.  I would like to thank you for making me a strong woman; a lot of my strength is a direct result of our relationship.  I knew that I wanted different for myself.  I knew I wanted to be financially independent. I knew I wanted a life outside of parenting.  I knew I wanted to travel and understand the world outside of my own experience.  I knew I wanted to challenge myself and remain curious about how the world works.  I knew that I wanted to marry a man who loved me even though I was always made to feel like I was unlovable.  I would never condemn you and your choices as a mother.  I know it hasn’t been easy.  I know I am not easy.  I know you have struggled to understand me.  I am different and different is challenging.  I know that I push you.  I encourage you to seek your own happiness.  I know I ask that you take responsibility for the life you have and the choices you have made.  I know that in some ways the life I have carefully crafted for myself is one you admire and on some level envy.  I want to thank you for always being there for me when the chips were down.  Pain and disappointment are old familiar friends you understand intimately so you were comfortable during those moments of my life.  I know light and joy are not and I am sorry.   I want you to know that the last thing you said and the choices you made since then have not defined or broken me.  I am in a really good place and the relationship you tried to undermine and destroy is in bloom again.  Tyler and I are learning to understand each other and are working on building a new relationship.  I will never give up on making him feel loved. I will love him without conditions.  He doesn’t have to prove he loves me, I know he does.  I respect him as a young adult trying to figure his life out. I will never let a year and six months pass without trying to reach out to him, no matter whose fault I think it is.  I want you to know I am happy but that doesn’t mean you don’t creep into my thoughts from time to time.  Your last words still stings but aren’t as painful as when they first left your mouth.  I wish I could give you my forgiveness but I haven’t grown enough yet to give it.   I will get there one day and my hope is you beat me to that finish line.  I pray that at some point you are able to reflect and dig deep to try to understand why you wanted to hurt me and once you have come to that answer feel I am worth enough to you that you are able to pick up the phone and apologize so we can make amends and start again. I love you.     

With love,

Your daughter Erica 

To my readers who struggle in their relationships with their mother, know you aren't alone.  Know it doesn't mean you have no value and are unlovable.  You are special in ways not understood by your parent and that is ok.  We aren't always born into the family we need BUT we are given a second chance with the friends we make.  

Second Act Movie Review

March 9, 2019

👍👍👍 out of 4 👍

This week has been a long and stressful week and when Friday night approached I was in the middle of decompressing from it all when my husband suggested we watch a movie.  We went through our options and stumbled on Second Act starring Ms. Jennifer Lopez and past right by it, lol.  After looking through the rest of our options my husband said, how about Second Act?  I, normally not a JLo fan but too tired to debate it threw my hands up and said, what the hell but let me shower first.  After said shower and comfy clothes we cuddled up and started watching.  Here is the premise in case you haven't heard of the movie before, 40 year old woman, high school drop out who is kicking ass as an assistant manager in a big box store, a la Walmart, is passed up for a promotion because of her lack of credentials.  She is devastated and makes a wish in front of her best friend played to perfection by her real life best friend, Leah Remini and her godson, a computer wiz.  Fast forward, a resume is doctored, a posh social media presence is created to back up said resume, followed by an actual interview at a huge beauty corporation.  She nails the interview and gets the job and...
I was loving the premise, the acting, the style and the feel of the movie and then there is a sort of wacky plot twist and I said out loud, "ugh, why did they have to go and do that for." 👀  But enough about that because that isn't the whole picture.  We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, it lifted my spirits and it was just what I needed from a comedy.

I woke up this morning with the film but more specifically the lead actress, Jennifer Lopez, on my mind and I thought it was so important that I shared it with my blogger community especially after a long hiatus and on the day after International Women's Day.  Jennifer has been performing and entertaining us for over 20 years.  She has shared her talent with us on the big screen and t.v. screen, she has created and produced shows, she has danced on the Las Vegas stage and a ton of award stages, she has toured internationally, made countless music videos, produced and recorded albums, has her own clothing line and the list just goes on and on and on and on.  She is dedicated to her craft and it shows in everything she does and I have never given her any credit. What more does this QUEEN need to do to be acknowledged by a plebeian like me??

On Thursday I attended a lecture given by the very talented landscape architect, Walter Hood (look him up, he has a Ted talk) after his presentation there was a conversation. He was spectacularly honest about race in America and how as a black landscape architect in a very white profession he has always had to work 3X as hard to get recognition and sometimes even harder.  Here I confess that I, a Puerto Rican woman who comes from the same place Jennifer Lopez has come from (BX baby!!) have done the same to her. I hate that I, like many, have slighted her or under minded her remarkable talent or have made her wait for over 20 damn years to finally give her the credit that she is owed.

Dear JENNIFER LOPEZ, I know its a little and I know its way overdue but you are an outrageously talented, skillful, brilliant entertainer and business woman and we are not worthy of your greatness but thank you for sharing your limitless talent with us in spite of it.

Thank you for reading my confession and film review.  Share your thoughts below.

Until next time.

By LifeStyledbyErica 💋

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