new ways of navigating familiar territory: beginnings

a note from the editor-in-chief:

a few months back, shortly after I'd arrived in Brooklyn at the end of the "Just One More" tour, I met up with Nisalda, whom I'd met a few times while loitering around our neighborhood pocket of Atwater Village. we'd both expected a tasty meal and a fun round of catch-up, but what resulted was a two-hour-long conversation about creative restlessness, traveling as a means to unblock the process, and the unsustainability of life on the road. but as we compared notes on the benefits of exploring unfamiliar spaces, we acknowledged the possibility of recreating the enlightenment of the New Perspective within the boundaries of our home bases. I took the opportunity to present Nisalda with a challenge: brainstorm ten ways to engage with her established territory in new ways in order to learn more about herself, her process, and her city, and share her triumphs and mishaps with us along the way. we walked away hours later with an awesome project, new goals, and a deeper understanding and respect for each other.

below, the first installment of Nisalda's new ways of navigating familiar territory.


I thought a lot about this assignment. It pushed me back and pulled me forth as I tried to figure out what about traveling inspires me that being home does not. Why do we look past a lot of our surroundings and tune things out when we're on familiar turf? What makes us so comfortable? Familiarity, of course, and comfort itself, duh. Our guard is down, we're safe, we don't have to pay attention to everything because we've seen it a million times. It's nice to feel comfortable somewhere, sure, but then aren't we taking some things for granted? Even if it's a simple opportunity to watch how two strangers interact (or not) as the 'Do Not Walk' sign forces them to be with one another for a minute. It's the empty space in our day to day we don't think or talk about. It's the mindless and transitional activity between point A and point B of our to-do list. It's the mundane, and I love it. I admit, I don't appreciate it as much when I'm home. While I try to be in the moment as often as possible, I often don't notice it. I'm too absorbed in thoughts about where I'm coming from or where I have to be or what I should be doing. All of that goes away when I travel. When I'm away, I'm fully present. I take in every bit of my surroundings and experience where I am totally and fully and make the most of my time because I'm aware it's limited.

Why can't I feel this way at home? How can I fall back in love with where I live? This is not unlike a longterm relationship. I get it now. I get why it's touching to see an old retired couple on a date holding hands as they walk. It's not just because it's insanely cute to see two old folks acting like smitten teenagers. (Although, that's a close second.) It's because we know they know something we don't yet know about living life knowing what few others know. They know how to appreciate a moment. I've asked myself, what do I need to do? Should I change my look and shave my head? I kind of want to, but is that even on topic? Should I sign up for classes of some sort? Nah, that's money I can't really spend right now. Maybe I could move to Portland. Okay, fine...

The assignment: Make a list of ten ways to challenge my perspective, experience growth and find inspiration in familiar territory. I can't always be traveling. Shit's expensive. Work takes me there, but that's not the point. I want to be inspired at home. Home is the focal point right now. Focus, Nisalda. Jesus.

The list: Creating change in small ways. It might change here and there, but these are ten ways I might be able to shake up the ole routine and make the old new again.

- Wake up at the same time everyday to establish routine and consistency. Wait, what? I know... Wasn't I just bitching about routine? Hear me out. By setting some sort of structure to my days, I might allow myself to see and map out my time. To actually use it. I often lose inspiration when I don't know where or how to start my day because I feel overwhelmed by everything I want to do. I end up doing nothing at all.

- Carry a disposable camera with me. I did this when I was younger. Something about having one shot (literally) at capturing a moment and not knowing how (or if) it will turn out inspires me to get out and try capturing lots of moments.

- Try a new cafe at least once a week. There are only a billion within a five mile radius of my bungalow.

- Book more gigs. I'm a creative. I think marking a show date on my calendar would be a flame under my ass to get projects done and do them with purpose.

- Yes Man. Yes, man, like the movie. Just say yes to shit. (Within my morals.)

- Find group meet-ups online. It's noncommittal. It's free. It would be interesting. Yoga in the park? A sewing circle? Water aerobics with a bunch of senior citizens? Why the fuck not?

- Go for a night crawl. I've always felt there's a shift in the air when the world goes to sleep and I'm still awake. Same goes for waking up before the world around me.

- Have lunch or go for a walk with a stranger. Converse. Listen. Learn. Bail.

- Grow a mini garden. Responsibility that requires thought and care. Presence and appreciation.

- Set an intention each and every day.

stay tuned as Nisalda reveals which ways work - and which ways won't stick.

Nisalda Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn, New York to Dominican parents and raised in the cow fields and woods of central Florida. Her interests include acting, music, nature, art, travel and world culture.
Currently based in Los Angeles, follow this late bloomer and her adventures at:
Instagram: @nisaldago