Some Realness - Dana Chirps

my escape from it all - fresh air. this is about 1.5 miles south of me on fort lauderdale beach.

The last few months have been completely, and utterly insane. Throughout this period of time, I randomly had a few people message me saying something to the effect of, "girl, it looks like you're living the life!" They were going strictly off of my social media. I found myself wanting to tell each of them (and sometimes doing so) that yes, things are good, but there's plenty of stress and struggle behind that very same Instagram account. As a part of the rebrand of this blog that I did back in August, I mentally vowed to myself that I would be a little more transparent on my blog - even if it meant it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. So, here it goes...

From about the end of October to the new year, my life was a total SHIT SHOW. Below is a list of some of what was on my plate. I might not have the timeframe totally accurate, and some of these are out of order. It was such a blur. I was on survival mode. I have only (very recently) begun to catch my breath. 

  • At the end of September my mom had to cancel her trip to visit me here in Fort Lauderdale because her father, my Papa, had made an unexpected bad turn in his health. It was weeks before he actually passed. I took some very last minute trips up north to be near family, and then to attend his funeral (he passed away October 20th). The loss of my Papa was devastating for my whole family, but I do feel as though we (especially my cousins) have become closer. However, the post you saw on my Instagram was me apple picking. 
  • At my Papa's funeral, I learned that my Aunt/Godmother (dad's side) had been moved to hospice due to her lung cancer caused from years of smoking. Another last minute trip up north was made with the intention of "visiting" her... but unexpectedly, that very same visit turned into saying goodbye. It was agony, but I'm glad I got to see her one more time. It was also the first time in five years my immediate family was all together in the same room, which was special despite the circumstances.
  • Around the timeframe my Aunt passed away (Dec 7), my Uncle -her husband- was diagnosed with lung cancer. But Uncle is tough as nails, has a ton of support, and is doing his part to beat this thing because he has motorcycle rides he wants to get to.
  • Somewhere in the midst of this... my boyfriend, Brett, was talking about a possibility for a job that would require us both to move out of the country, and move quickly. Ultimately, he got the offer and accepted it. This was very exciting, and I was (and am) elated for this opportunity for him, but in came the stress of moving.
  • I had to negotiate and fight the terms of my lease. Originally, I was told that I could not go month-to-month because that was against the terms of the lease. That would have meant I either would have had to move my stuff into a storage unit and find a place to live for a couple months (K, I'll forever owe you for even entertaining the idea of letting me crash on your couch), or I would have been asked to pay for an entire year's worth of rent for a unit that I wouldn't be living in for "breaking the terms." Thank God I read the fine print (pro tip, ya'll), and was confident enough to fight back. I was able to get my lease extended, short-term, and in a month-to-month format. I'm pretty sure there was a beach picture on Instagram. 
  • Knowing that this move was becoming a strong possibility, I knew it would be a lot cheaper/easier for me to sell my furniture and belongings instead of moving them. Cue the rodeo that is Facebook Marketplace. But thank the dear sweet Lord for aligning me with a few people, (one in particular - CS!) that became the new and rightful owners of the possessions that I was parting with. I feel like I could write a book titled "Sisterhood of the Traveling Couch." But using my ironing board, and long board as a dinner table has officially gotten old. lol.
  • Let's add job searching/interviewing for a rewarding and remote marketing position I could do in another country while already being more than busy with the actual job I was currently employed at... that was probably a crab legs for dinner Instagram post. 
  • And then actually giving notice... that was more emotional than I was expecting. Thankfully it ended up working out just fine. I was asked to fly back to Fort Lauderdale after Xmas/New Years to work just one day, which I thought was odd... but it ended up saving me about $175 (despite cost of ticket I paid for) because I didn't have to pay out of pocket for insurance for January anymore, so I shrugged it off and didn't mind it, despite the added hassle. This corresponded with a bestie selfie on Instagram during the flight back to FLL.
  • And just to make things a little more interesting, I was coordinating (and arguing with insurance), and then had that well-overdue surgery on my vocal chords on December 22nd, a $2000 procedure (after insurance). Christmas decorations post on Instagram for sure!
  • In order to wrap up my work projects in a way that put my boss and coworkers in a good position, and to give me enough time to heal from vocal chord surgery, I had to negotiate my start date for my new job. It was a conversation that started with massive anxiety ("what if I lose this opportunity?!" "what if I can't get my voice fixed!?"), but ended in relief. My new boss could not have been any more understanding and willing to work with me. Brunch pic on Instagram.

Did I mention all this took place during the holidays? The most wonderful time of the year, eh? I had reached a point where I felt like my brain was going to split in half, was mentally and physically exhausted, and suddenly found myself quite empathetic towards Britney Spears' 2007 meltdown. I'm not one to wish time or days away, but by the end of December 2016, I was definitely looking forward to a fresh start with a new year. 

Once I got to the first week of January, I felt like I had finally made it over the hump. Yes, my heart still aches intensely when I think about the losses my family has had, but it no longer feels as raw as it did. My Uncle is kicking ass, and putting cancer in its place. I have successfully sold all the big pieces in my apartment, and I'm donating what doesn't fit in my car when I move this weekend. My lease in Fort Lauderdale worked out, Brett found us a place to move into, and we successfully tag teamed to get his condo in Portsmouth rented out. Vocal chord surgery (and recovery) is already a thing of the past. I started my new job, and so far I'm really enjoying both the job and the team. I'm sleeping better (you can literally see the difference on my FitBit), I feel lighter (but am eating more), and no longer have any negative thoughts or stress lurking in the back of my mind. Life is good.

I really hope this post doesn't come across as "woe is me." I truly think my life is freaking AWESOME, and consider myself to be someone with a positive outlook. But when somebody younger than me had reached out to me and said my life seemed "perfect," it made me want to write this post to shed some more light into what was occurring in my life "behind the scenes." To compare your life to someone else's without knowing the whole story is a dangerous game, and I did not want to contribute to that.

Despite what social media profiles project - nobody's life is perfect, certainly not mine. Know there is almost always more to the story. 

 

 

 

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Adios, Soflo - Dana Chirps

3 blocks from my place.

This post is a little all over the place because there is just SO much to say. About 4 years ago I knew I'd be leaving my job, and knew I was also ready to leave Virginia. With the exception of a few years in northern Jersey, I had spent my life in VA, and wanted a change. So I applied for jobs in cities I liked. My top choice was Boston, but I didn't get any bites. I ended up getting the most job offers in South Florida, and that is how I ended up here. 

Moving to a new city where I didn't know anyone gave me a certain level of independence, and confidence that I am not sure could have been achieved any other way. With my immediate family and the bulk of my network being 1000 miles away - everything was up to me. It's been both scary, and invigorating. I have zero regrets in moving here, and have largely loved this chapter in my life. 

But it's time for the next adventure, and I am moving. In fact, this weekend is my last weekend living in South Florida. 

My experience here has been a mix of highs, lows, and a ton of sunshine. There will be things I miss, and things I don't. In regards to the negatives, even though they were challenging, I know I ultimately came out on top. The negative experiences only made me better. 

The lows and things I won't miss:

  • The amount of shady people down here, especially those disguised as "friends." But thank you for teaching me how to use a very sophisticated filter to determine who I allow in my life. 
  • The dating scene. (Though I have a boyfriend now). But thank you for teaching me to be fearless in addressing BS head-on, and for helping me figure out what I wanted (or didn't want) in a relationship.
  • Phonies in the workplace. But thank you for reminding me that it's always worth the bumpy ride to rise above.
  • The blatant obsession (not to be confused with the general liking) of money, cars, plastic surgery, and material things. But thank you for showing me that "keeping up with the Joneses," getting tons of plastic surgery, and owning (or pretending to own) a lot of shiny objects is (sometimes) just a very glossy way of hiding other issues and insecurities. Even extreme wealth doesn't buy happiness. 
  • The glorification of cheating/affairs. But thank you for increasing my respect for those who are loyal (and proud to be) to their significant others.
  • Drugs... this particular low is especially targeted towards the guy that I was once set up with on a blind date. The pansy roofied me. I literally woke up naked and alone in a hospital not knowing why I was here (had no memory of the night). Thank God for my guardian angels, as what often happens when a girl is roofied did not happen to me. But thank you for showing me that for every jerk in this world, there are at least 10 incredibly wonderful people. (Side note: I was also delighted to learn that somehow even in my drugged state, I was still seemingly determined to stick up for myself - I was told I broke the guy's hand. :)) 
  • The traffic.
  • The "palmetto bugs." ::::shudder::::
  • Aventura, Doral, Kendall. (lol)

The highs (Where do I begin?!):  

  • I learned how to search, find, and set up my own place - it's an empowering feeling to choose your very own home, in the city of your choice.
  • My career in marketing is (in a word) thriving. I attribute a lot of that success to the opportunities I was blessed with while living here. I can confidently walk into any industry, speak to any stakeholder at any level, and can provide them with revolutionary marketing strategies and tactics  - this is a sentence I would not have dared to put on paper 5 years ago. I have also had the privilege of working for some true leaders (DV, looking at you), and met some AMAZING friends because of work (ninjas, TA, network/industry peeps, I love you).
  • The newfound confidence of being on my own led me to travel to 8 different countries in Europe, solo. 
  • The friends I've made here! My goodness, do I roll with an awesome pack! 
  • How international South Florida is. I absolutely LOVE this, and love that I've made connections with such a diverse group of people. I would not have it any other way. 
  • The weather, and the surrounding natural beauty. This. is. everything. Almost every single week I have had a "I can't believe I live here," moment. It is PARADISE, people! Dining outside, all year round. Going to the beach, all year round. Never having to wear bulky annoying layers. Folks, it's not as good as it seems - it's better.
  • The brightness - between the sunshine, the rays coming through my bedroom windows every morning, and the general affinity to neon colors down here... I just dig the vibrancy. 
  • Living three blocks to the beach. This has been an absolute dream. I can walk to the beach, and to some of my favorite restaurants, and bars. I can go for a run up and down A1A, with the ocean on my side the whole way. Every day is a beach day.
  • How active people are down here. It is so motivating and invigorating to see so many people being active, and taking advantage of their environment. Shout out boot camppppp!!!! 
  • The "only in south Florida" moments. 
  • Being a blonde in Miami.
  • All the bad drivers - I'll miss them because this will probably have been the only time/place where I'll get to be classified as an "average" driver. ;)
  • 94.9 - lovvvve my latin music in the morning!!!!!
  • Cheap hockey tickets.
  • Being able to keep close tabs and be involved with marketing luxury real estate here!
  • Basketball on the beach.
  • Publix, and the dude there that hooks me up with extra crab legs from time to time.
  • Having tons of things to do - paddleboarding, biking, nude beaches, shopping, bar hopping, exploring, road tripping, rooftop pools, rooftop parties, rooftop bars, everglades, Key West, Art Basel, festivals, concerts, kite surfing, boating, boat parades, boat parties, renting yachts, clubbing, you name it, Soflo has it.
  • Burger Fi, Steak 954/The Living Room, S3, Grille 401, Houston's, Sushi Rock, The Alchemist, Bulla, Park Tavern, El Camino, Neuvos Cubanos, Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, Lure, Tap 42, Rebel House, Elbo Room (lol), and a ton of other spots.
  • All the different areas - Jupiter, Mizner Park in Boca, The Ave in Delray, allllll over Laudy, SoBe, Wynwood, Midtown, Lincoln Road, Coconut Grove, Brickell, and Little Havana.
  • Knowing that no matter how hard you try there is always someone weirder in South Florida!
  • There is really nothing quite like a wild night in South Florida. Drinking, dancing, partying, and just having a fun time. 

Good grief, the good outweighed the bad BY FAR. On more than one occasion, I've compared South Florida to the kind of woman you'd say "Thank God you're pretty" to... but I really have loved my experience here, and feel so grateful for everyone that helped make it so wonderful. It has been such an adventure to chase South Florida's sunshine for almost 4 years. I will most certainly miss it, but am excited for the next chapter. Stay tuned to see where I'm headed! (Those that know - shhhhh!!! don't give it away!)

I will miss this.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Miami - Travel - Dana Chirps

Calle Ocho really is as vibrant as this artsy tiled wall there!

I recently had the pleasure of hosting my little brother, Moose, and his girlfriend, Hannah, here in South Florida. Originally, we had all mentally planned for some outdoor activities, but Mother Nature had other plans. So we quickly decided we would instead head down to Miami, and visit Little Havana. Little Havana is the Cuban neighborhood in Miami. The main street is called "Calle Ocho," by both Latinos and gringos. It means "8th Street." It's likely you've heard this area being referenced in one of Pitbull's songs. It is filled with cigar shops, restaurants/bars, ventanitas (coffee windows), and basically all things Cuban. 

What I love about Calle Ocho is the history. Most parts of South Florida are new (at least in comparison). New and flashy is fun, don't get me wrong - and I wear those neon colors proudly! But it's awesome to have an area in Miami where you can be surrounded by deep history and culture, which Little Havana provides. The people, the food, the music, the cigars, the decor... it really does feel like you've been transplanted someplace else, even though you're just a few miles from Brickell.

This is the Cuban tile that surrounds the bar at Ball and Chain.

In this neighborhood, you'll see tons of different variations of Cuban tile all throughout. I loved trying to spot all the variations - I find them to be beautiful. You'll also see a lot of domino references because on 8th and 15th is Domino Park. It's fun to take a glimpse at the older gentleman in these tense domino matches. 

Domino Park! Don't let the grey hair fool you - it can get pretty rowdy in there!

Little Havana is ready for the holidays!

As far as food goes, man oh man... it is SO good. Muy autentico! As my Cuban friend put it, "you really can't go wrong." We opted to go to Ball and Chain, a spot with tons of history, and known for their excellent Cuban food and live music. We conveniently walked in right as happy hour was beginning - love when that happens. 

We ordered a handful of apps which included: Cuban Spring Rolls, Queso Frito, and Mariquitas de Maduros. All three were addicting, but my favorites were the spring rolls, and the mariquitas de maduros. Moose and Hannah (and Moose's friend, Greg, who ended up joining us) all ordered drinks which they enjoyed - I only took sips because I was driving, and thank goodness for that, because they were strong! :) Also - forgive the low quality phone pics... it was monsooning so I didn't want to risk my Nikon getting drenched.

Sweet Mother of God... I think we all could have consumed our body weight in these Cuban Spring Rolls.

Mariquitas de maduros - these were thin and crispy, and sprinkled with salt. Delicious!

I normally don't talk too much about the specifics of my work on blog - but I definitely have to this time. I've been doing marketing for luxury apartments for some time, and one of the deals I've worked on this past year is a property called Intown, which is located on Calle Ocho. We paired off with a local South Florida interior design team, and I have to say - they nailed it. 

The first picture is a snapshot of the clubroom. I love the image that was blown up on the wall. Also, if you look closely, you'll spot some Cuban tile along the wall of the bar that was done so elegantly. But my favorite design element in this property had to to be the enormous light fixtures (there's two) outside of the clubroom. It's the type of fixture that really can't be done just anywhere, it has to be done in the right setting and atmosphere - but the vibe and style of it aligned so seamlessly with the brand of this property. 

Generally speaking, I think that Calle Ocho is a place that anyone coming to visit Miami should check out. It's so different than the rest of Miami, and culturally quite remarkable. 

There are three things I still would like to do in Little Havana:

  1. See a film at Tower Theater - historic theater that shows foreign, award winning, and independent films. 
  2. Attend Carnaval Miami on Calle Ocho - yearly festival.
  3. Go to Versailles.

 

 

 

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.