Monday, December 31, 2007

Too many words...suffice to say I have been challenged and blessed.


First year post-college.
Alston house.
Tri divas.
Incredible, inspiring new friends.
New depth,distance with old friends.
New family business.
Official graduation.
Christie&Garret get hitched.
Bath house.
Double-duce with Katie B.
SB Triathlon.
New York.
New family-
Teri, Sean, Zech, Ethan, Tessa.
Sabbatical life in SB.
Leaving Bath St.
Multi-family nomadic Christmas.
Packing up my childhood home.

...and getting on a jetplane.

Stay tuned- next post from Florence, Italy! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

life is goo

I saw this sign as I walked downtown this morning. I found it very amusing...and the reason is- it's just so true! Now, I'm not sure the point that the shopkeeper or marketer was trying to make- but to me, it said a lot that I am positive was totally unrelated...

Say "goo" to a triathlete and we think Gu. Gu is a small packet of intense calories- basically straight sugar and caffeine. Marathoners and triathletes use it during long workouts when their bodies are being depleted of fuel and need a rapidly metabolized pick-me-up to sustain energy and keep moving.

Life sometimes feels to me like training practice with a bunch of Gu- giving me spikes of energy and maybe even sustaining me for a while, but when it comes down to it, too much Gu is not a good thing. You can sustain yourself for a while on the stuff, but more than likely, you do it too long and you're going to feel nauseous and eventually crash. The whole idea of squirting something quickly in your mouth so you don't have to stop to refresh yourself has it's benefits- convenience mainly- but it's pretty unnatural. The body just need some good complex carbs every once in a while!

I think that in the past I have erred on the side of relying on Gu too much- if you move quickly and embrace change, you don't have to think too much about what you're doing, who you are becoming, or the unhappy realities that sometimes surround you in life. Conversely, sometimes you miss the simple pleasures as well (can't forget those ;). I think Gu is my form of escapism.

A few weeks ago I was coming to the end of about 6 weeks of traveling and I was walking around a lake on a gorgeous fall day catching up with a few friends (via iphone). My friend Kacie was listening to me babble on about life in all its wonderful twists and turns and she said something that really jolted me. "Vanessa, I feel like you are always in fast forward and we're just trying to find the pause button so we can bring you back to play." I laughed at the time, and over the next few days tried to justify to myself why it was good that I adapted so quickly, made quick decisions, and grabbed hold of opportunities- I'm usually really good at justifying things- but for whatever reason, this time, that loving criticism stuck.

The last few weeks I have really tried to slow down and think, read, and pray- a lot. It has been so uncomfortable- and so necessary. I didn't anticipate how hard it would be for me to stop doing and to just be still. I've been doing yoga, even though - no, especially because, it usually drives me crazy because it is so slow and repetitive. I've even tried meditating. That's a doozy. But, mostly, I have just allowed myself to sit in a state of uncertainty and begin to recognize what I am drawn to when I slow the momentum in my life.

It has left me feeling a little more lost than I ever really remember feeling, but quite a bit more faithful as well. "Be still and know that I am God." He meant it. I'm grateful for the chance to understand even a little bit more what that really means.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rave Review

I think that I was recommended this book five or six times by different people whom I love and respect, people who know me and the way I think and love to be challenged and to see life, love, and faith opened up in different lights through poignant writing and music....but I still did not get around to reading it until now.

It is the kind of book that once you've read through it, you immediately feel compelled to read it again because it has the simplicity and familiarity of a simple pleasure like walking and talking to your best friend, yet a depth of insight that makes you sure that you didn't fully "get it" the first time, and maybe life is in fact about edging closer to "getting it"- the message, our purpose, all of it. I'm going to leave it at that in terms of description/analysis because I'm not usually so "out there" in my blogging habits and I don't want to lose everybody. ;)

But, I will say, that this book also gave me a wonderful surprise at the end. I have had several moments over the last few years when I have felt incredibly blessed to have gone to Westmont and receive the education that I did. I was reminded of that once again on page a section that began like this:

"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answeres at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things."

Miller then proceeds to recount a moment of realization that he had...while attending a lecture at Westmont College by Dr. Greg Spencer. :) The lecture was about the power of metaphors and the way that we think about cancer, love, and relationship- in and through metaphors. I remember this day so vividly in rhetoric. It shattered me. It shattered Donald Miller as well. I am not going to explain it further, Dr. Spencer is the genius, and Donald Miller does an awesome job of summarizing and extending it into his thoughts on love and faith. Both are more appropriate parties to seek more from- I think part of "getting it" is the seeking anyway- I don't want to cut anyone short. ;)

Incredible book.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Guilty pleasure :)

Sometimes I like to work from bed- just because I can. Usually I prefer to walk downtown to work so that I am around people, have a change of scenery and so I don't feel lazy, but I have been all over the place the last 6 weeks or so and it is so wonderful to wake up in my own bed, have the coffee already brewing, and just start plugging away. Plus, it's cloudy- so there's really no need to go outside anyway. ;)

It's so good to be home!

Monday, October 8, 2007

lakes, leaves, leinys

Last week Josh and I went up to Duluth for the Minnesota Council of Non-profits Convention. It was a couple days of workshops on fundraising, marketing- blogs and OSN's were a hot topic :)- cross-sectoral advocacy, and a lot of other organizational functions that were totally over my head (I prefer it that way, anyway). We got to stay in his friend's cabin on Lake Superior, which was incredible. Every time I looked out the window I felt like I was looking out on the Pacific ocean and the Channel Islands- it's just that huge! What was even better was the two hour drive on the highway, tree-lined on both sides with the most vibrantly colored leaves I have ever seen.

We have been working pretty much non-stop preparing for a whole slew of meetings this week. In structuring the grants and scholarships for students, we have been thinking a lot about the importance of incentive in volunteering- apart from appealing to the end-goal of community betterment. Tim Ferriss posted this week about a similar topic- how to encourage and incentivize giving. The title of his post is The Karmic Capitalist: Should I Wait Until I'm Rich to Give Back? Needless to say- the answer is No- but he gives a good argument for it and provides an interesting incentive- check it out!

Josh's family lives on Turtle lake. I like to come out on the deck at dusk and decompress with a Leiny for a bit. Beautiful, isn't it? :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

The adventure continues!

I'm taking off for Minneapolis bright and early tomorrow. I am so
excited to go somewhere new and experience classic "fall"- crisp air,
changing leaves- seasons- such a novelty! ;) I'm definitely feeling
like 5 days was way too short to be home though! Oh well- I'm off! :)

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hodge Podge

It is so good to be home! Santa Barbara really is one of the most incredible places on earth. When I was flying in yesterday I was so excited I just stared out at the islands and the beautiful coast and grinned like a little kid. I feel so blessed to call this place home.

Anyway...I just thought I'd post a random mix of photos from the last few weeks that never made it on here due to this or know. Enjoy- I did! :)

New York City (from the US Open in Queens)

The Jersey Shore

Miss Brittany Raffill <3

...and Mr. Gerald Lahay

Just a bunch of kids really...Central Park Zoo :)

Miss Amy Nave! <3 (p.s. I can't figure out how to rotate this baby- but I just had to add it...tilt your head a little ;)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


"wait...we're getting on that?" ;)

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, September 21, 2007


Sent from my iPhone

I'm back in the city and last night Josh and I went to this incredible little Italian restaurant and then to The Lion King! Thank you to my dad's fiance Teri for these amazing tickets- we were 10 rows back, center stage and it was AMAZING!! It is such a wonderful, moving story (one of my fav Disney films) and probably the most visually stunning plays I have ever seen. The dancing was phenomenal and made me feel inspired and washed-up at the same time! ;) just keeps getting better because Amy is flying in tonight and I am heading over the the Grand Hyatt to check us in now!! I cannot wait until she gets here! :)

p.s. I slacked on the blogging in Jersey...I'll post some about that later.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More fun!

Too much to process = snapshot approach...

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday- Brunch bottom-less mimosas...afternoon stroll through Central Park...Redeemer Presbyterian Church...dancing to the wee hours at APT- swanky- and pretty much a gay bar- so much fun though! :)

Monday- Business plans...David Letterman (we got the special tickets- red-sticker="T" for Trouble)...Le Madeline (best creme brulee in the city)...late night brainstorm sesh.
Tuesday- Slept til noon...Thunder storm (and Neil's first day as a bike messenger- yikes!)...Cocoa cafe- coffee, chocolate, wine= heaven on earth- right around the corner... fire-escape the madness for a bit...and more fun to come!


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lazy day :)

Reading on the fire escape (Eat Pray Love- poignant writing- love it)...

Long subway ride...The original hot dog- found on Coney Island...

Stroll down the boardwalk...long subway ride- home. :)


Today was SO incredible! Actually, the last few days have been unreal. I wandered around Central Park and went to the Met all day yesterday by myself, which was so much fun. I love being by myself in this city. Then, Josh and Neil and I met up at this outdoor theater in the park and saw a free play- A Midsummer Night's Dream- which was so masterfully done. It's a tradition in NYC to have free plays in the park in the summertime- so cool!

Today Josh and I went to the Bodies exhibit, which is basically every conceivable part of the human body displayed in both informative and stunning ways. I was incredbily moved by the section devoted to the growth of a fetus and specifcally the female body that had a child still in her womb. So amazing to see that so vividly displayed.

I took all three roommates out to this ridiculous Indian restaurant we found yesterday that is absolutely packed with florescent lights. Then we hit up a few bars. We found one called Fat Baby that was playing pretty good dance music (b/c we all know that's the only reason I go out)- but no one was dancing! So Josh and Neil challenged me and I spent the rest of the night getting people to dance with each other. It was so fun- totally changed the dynamic! One guy saw what I was doing and told me I would make a great politician (food for thought...)! ;)

I can't believe it's only been 3 days- I feel so at home here. More later- I need sleep!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Love, love!

Yesterday was a blast! I got into NY mid-morning and met Josh in the city. He took me to his aunt's apartment and made me breakfast. So sweet! His aunt lives on the 44th floor of this building that is rent only to artists- she's a composer. Her apartment was classic!

Josh, Neil, and Chase have a sweet apartment on the lower east side, which is right by China town and Little Italy! They even have a fire escape- which I absolutely love! Josh and Neil make a great pair of cooks and after an incredible dinner (I'm being very spoiled here) we head out to the US OPEN!! I have never really watched tennis but this was SO much fun! The stadium was absolutely packed and I love that kind of energy! Plus- tennis players are pretty hot. My favorite was the Swiss guy- Federer. :)

Btw, I learned all sorts of tennis lingo- love,love means the score is 0-0. How fun is that!

Today I'm heading uptown to wander around the Met for a few hours...I love it here! :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The adventure begins...

So a couple hours ago I got on my first flight by myself! I have traveled a good amount but never without a friend or my family. It's been funny b/c I'm usually totally confident traveling, but the newness of this makes me kinda neurotic...I've felt like I was forgetting something since I got to the airport and I thought it had something to do with worrying about my bags, but I realized it's more of a feeling like I'm missing someone. Pretty deep, huh? ;) I think I'm going to start journaling. :)

Josh and I are going to the U.S. Open finals pretty much right after I get to New York so I'm supposed to be studying up on tennis and the players so I'm not totally lost. My solution: beer in a sports bar. What says lone traveller better than that?! :)

I'm so excited to get to NYC I doubt I will sleep at all on the flight. I hope it's not too taboo to laugh deliriously during a tennis match...don't worry, I'll hold it together. :)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Not for Sale

I've been working with my friend Allie Trowbridge on the launch of the marketing campaign for the "Not for Sale...the documentary" this week. Allie is one of the most driven people I know and also one of the sweetest! We have had so much fun!

I learned a lot about the campaign as we discussed how to maximize viral marketing potential on the web. This is alarming and heartwrenching information.

"Slavery was abolished in 1865 in the United States.
Why then are 200,000 people in this country still enslaved?"

"Slavery is currently illegal across the entire globe.
Why then are 27 million people enslaved worldwide?"

She just launched the website-- Check out the trailer!

Vision Launchers (couple Westmont guys) did the design and it looks great! These guys are so hot right now! They have some serious talent and sound like a lot of fun to work with.

I am excited to do more of this stuff!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


My goal was to finish the Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon in under 5 hours and today I did it! I didn't wear a watch or anything and didn't stress too much about time or how well I was doing in the larger scheme of things...I even took a bathroom break, which apparently is more than others allow themselves (crazies!). I just wanted to have a lot of fun and- let me tell you- it was FUN!

I felt really good all throughout and only started to really feel tired when I start pushing in the last few miles of the run. I finished in 4 hours 20 minutes!! It felt so amazing to finish and have a bunch of friends cheering at the finish line- I even tapped the reserve and sprinted the last 10 yards or so! I'm a sucker for the crowd! :P

I don't have any photos right now, but DJ came and shot a ton....including a video of me and Amy before the race, which was so cool of him (in spite of his mean tricks!) ;)

So...the Tri divas (was a working title- but due to lack of energy- stuck ;)- Amy, Paige and I (and Deyl too!)- are already making big plans for a Half-Ironman in Spring ' vote is Hawaii! I think we're addicted! :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I have a new hero!

I have been learning a lot about social entrepreneurship and this guy has totally inspired what direction?...I have no idea yet...but I am inspired! :)

Check out the video on TED!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Brotherly love :)

Brotherly love :)
Originally uploaded by vanessafelts

Thanks Stevie! ;)

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, August 17, 2007

Patience, grasshopper...

To me, patience is a buzz kill.

I love the fast-pace, passionate, adventurous approach to life and will most often surround myself with people who feel the same. That's why it's easy to love Richard Branson- (well, I think I'll buy an island today, and then a plane...)- who wouldn't love to approach life AND work that way?

I have learned recently, especially when it comes to starting a business, not to distrust the calm, prudent, decision-making much as that makes me feel like a "grown-up," which I emphatically reject! ;)

In some ways, it is important to act quickly and decisively, but for me it has been difficult to separate that from the impetuousness of is important to make sure that the thrill is not controlling you.

Most importantly, I think that it takes consciously applied patience to hear God's voice of direction. This is something I have been praying about and trying to incorporate into all areas of my life. You're welcome to challenge me on it, I love a challenge. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I don't get sick. I think it is a stupid mental thing. I can't even remember the last time I was sick...okay, yes I do, it was March and I had a bad experience with Nyquil b/c I had never taken it before so I didn't know that you shouldn't take it at 3am and try to work 4 hours later...I almost passed out in Paige's office. That was bad.

My mom never let us take stuff like that when I was little. If I was kinda sick, she just told me I needed to drink a lot of water....and if I was really sick, she maybe switched that prescription to orange juice...but we never took that weird stuff and hardly ever got antibiotics unless we were REALLY sick. She kinda went through a health-nut phase. I liked it though- I don't like medicine- it makes me feel funny.

But seriously, who gets sick during summer? Unheard of! I think I even have a fever. This is ridiculous. I'm least I'm not being a baby about it, right? LOL ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Let me just check on that...."

I spent much of the afternoon in various banks across town...well, two actually...then on my iphone with the third. I have my personal account at Washington Mutual, my F.R. Holdings account (family real estate partnership) at Wells Fargo, and a separate savings account with HSBC. bla.bla.bla.

I think banks are so funny. They're so intent on all having the best possible customer service, which I guess they have to because if they weren't smiling and asking if you want coffee then you would simply have a conniption fit watching them run around trying to figure out their own system.

My uncle wrote me a check that I had to deposit in the F.R. Holdings account, which only has his and my older brother's name on it- finances officer and CEO, respectively- simple/easy, right? So the Wells guy just could not figure out why I wanted to deposit the check even though I told him it was for the family business.

He ran around calling the lady at my uncle's bank (who was in jury duty), working with her assistant (nada) then asking if he could call my uncle (who is in Fiji for a month)...and totally ignored me when I said it was fine b/c I'm a partner and I'm not worried that I can't withdraw and- no, it's not going to disappear forever...and 30 minutes later finally came back and said, "Wow, was that confusing! He must just have done it for tax purposes..."

I could have told him that! So of course I apologize because it must be my fault it was so confusing- but seriously- do I need to explain why I want to deposit money? craziness! (I have some thoughts on the whole run-around game with taxes- but that is another post, for another day..;)

I'm so glad I had my iphone because I could just sit their calmly and let Colbie entertain me and do my other banking online. I love efficiency! HSBC has a legit online savings account- 5.05% interest! It's like a CD, but way better! :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

just thought I'd share...

You know sometimes when you're cruising through some daily blogposts and you just keep finding one cool thing after morning Seth really came through for me.

This guy publishes a list he calls The Personal's a sweet tool for business education...and then his site led me to another one called Change This! It's full of manifestos that different people have contributed. How sweet would it be to write a manifesto! I'm going to have to start brainstorming that one... :)

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Deyl gave me this sweet documentary for my birthday called A Map for Saturday. It's about this guy who decided to travel around the world for a year by himself (and film it, apparently). Great footage of some of the coolest places in the world! Along the way he met others doing the same thing. They formed various little back-packer communities and created mini-realities within the whole experience. Travel can be such a funny thing...surreal and euphoric and so far from "reality," but what happens when you commit to that experience for a year? There is nothing outside of that heightened state. It was so interesting to see how that changed people. They became numb.

I know how over-played Tim Ferriss is becoming right now (you can't hate the guy for be a trend-setter/incredible self-promoter now! ;)...but I couldn't help but hear his commentary on life-deferrment and binge-traveling throughout this film. The whole theme of the film rested on the idea that "everyday was like Saturday"...meaning no one was telling them what to do, they had no structure or expectations of them- no boss. But of course, at the end of the trip they inevitably returned to "true reality." What a sad perspective, but how prevalent it is!

I have struggled between the desire to wander around the world for a while in my "youth" to live in different cultures, learn different languages, to contribute first-hand where there is great need....and the even greater desire to be creating a life right NOW- that is full of freedom to pursue all of these things, that is irrespective of my age, that gives this gift to my family one day- a lifestyle. Thankfully, the greater of the two has taken root and I feel so blessed to have been given this perspective now.

Nevertheless, as Jessica takes off the Whistler to fall in love with an Aussie mountain and run the next Winter Olympics, Layne sets out to see the vibrant colors and cultures of Latin America, and Abby runs off to Italy to drink vino, wander through street markets, flirt with danger, and teach a little English on the side...the itch of youth creeps up on me a bit. ;) It's okay...I plan to stay young forever- young and free. (queue cheesy music now...) :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Little entrepreneurs

Paige and I have had a lot of conversations about the pitfalls of the current education system and how we would like to educate our children differently. We decided we wanted to create an Entrepreneurial School for kids that teaches them to work outside of "the system" and does not loom FAILURE over their heads. Her book is going to address a non-traditional education, informed by some of the top-achievers of today that she has been in contact with. I think that this could and should be a huge paradigm shift in the world of education!

Some educators have already moved in this direction and I love to see this happening! Paige was recommended by a local speakers bureau to speak for the staff of a non-traditional middle school for girls in NorCal. It's called The Girls' Middle, the name doesn't say much, but I love what they are doing!

I also found a couple websites with programs to encourage entrepreneurship in kids. I loved this quote from a Kid's Overview section: "We have all dreamed about being a sports star, singer or movie star but once you know more about entrepreneurship, it will be the next real cool thing to be." Isn't that so true? I was telling DJ the other day that I can remember wanting to be every professional career I can think of- from architect, to doctor, to lawyer, to professor..."And entrepreneur?" he asked... "Increasingly!" I responded. :)

While I have no desire at this point to become an educator or to work toward educational reform on a massive-scale, I would love to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in my kids someday. Good thing I have at least 10 years for this idea to spread! ;)

p.s. I love that the joke is way more valuable than the lemonade- ideas are a valuable commodity- smart kid! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Military Intelligence

This afternoon I had the privilege of driving General Henry Mueller and his wife Kathryn to various appointments in town. They are the sweetest couple!

While Kathryn had her hair done at the beauty parlor, the General and I drove around town doing errands. He filled me in on the last 90 years of his life- most of which were spent leading infantry battalions in WWII, Korea, and during the military occupation of Japan, serving as military atache to U.S. embassies in El Salvador, Panama, and Argentina, inventing/patenting the smart cart or doing military intelligence as the assistant to the Director of the CIA. Amazing.

So...after all of this talk about the military intelligence in his day, I decided to wow him with the fine little piece of technology that some of us carry around these days. I opened Google maps and showed him the satellite image of his house- right on my iPhone! He was floored! He said, "We could have used that in Japan! We would ambush and then spend hours trying to figure out where the hell we were!" Pretty snazzy. : P

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


This weekend was such a blast! My roommate, Katie Burtis, and I have been planning to celebrate our birthdays together since we met- the first day of freshman year- and we finally did it!

I did a sprint tri Saturday morning and then spent the afternoon resting up for the night- dinner at El Paseo, drinks at Sandbar (where Kacie became our guest bartender!) and dancing at Tonic! It had been over a month since I'd been there and- Oh how I've missed that place! ;)

Sunday we spent the day at Leadbetter and had a bbq with my family. Oh...and I got an iPhone!! :) I felt so loved this weekend- thank you to my sweet friends and family!

Friday, July 27, 2007

One dreamline...

Mini-retirement in one of these...

Do you think they have wireless? ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thank you, Bobby

I've been spending the last couple days researching internet merchant accounts, payment gateways, shopping carts, e-commerce website functioning...learning more than I thought I would ever need to know about this stuff, and really enjoying it actually.

I especially love it when companies put things in graphs or charts! has a really cool diagram that shows you the whole process from customer to bank account and the web guys I've been working with took my notes and put together two different charts that illustrated the confusing aspects, problems, or holes in the sitemap/functioning. So cool! It totally helped the conversation when I had a conference call with the designer and developer this morning.

I am just so amazed how much it can cost to build a website with all the functioning that we as consumers expect. I have really taken it for granted how much work is put into developing the pages that just seem to appear out of thin air and take my money and send me information.

I just expect the internet to do what I know it is capable of, but I don't really think about who makes it work that way. The guys at Hydrastudio really put me in my place today- in a good way. :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

And we're off!

This week began at 12:30a.m. when I got a text from Paige..."I hope you have some coffee"...soon followed by "You=the best. XOXO Do you want to have a slumber party? It might be easier and more stimulating. There may be a lot of pts to talk over...Pushing now could = long term benefits. Love ya!"

I laughed and jumped out of bed, grabbing my laptop charger and my keys and heading out the door in my pj's to her house. I love all-nighters for all of the energy, creativity, and moments of insane laughter that are drawn out in the wee hours of the morning.

It's funny to think about the all-nighters that we pulled in college...fully believing that something significant was riding on those last few pages of a research paper.

Paige and I have now been working for the last 8 hours honing a new introduction and outline for her book. She will send it off to the former editor of Harper Collins in a matter of hours! Eeeek! :)