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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

An Ultimate Love Letter to Los Angeles

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I love this piece of art from Chris Pritchard who shows us how beautiful and majestical Los Angeles looks from above. A unique inspiration to explore Los Angeles.


Above LA from Chris Pritchard on Vimeo.

From Bulgaria to Los Angeles With Hope, Faith and Determination

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

About 13% of the world’s adults — or about 630 million people — say they would like to leave their country and move somewhere else permanently. For roughly 138 million people, that somewhere else would be the U.S. — the No. 1 desired destination for potential migrants. (Source Gallup)

Since I moved to Los Angeles, I’ve met lot of people from all around the world who courageously left their own countries to pursue their dreams in the USA. They challenged the status quo to do what inspires them the most. And everybody will tell you that it takes resilience, faith and determination to make one dream comes true in America.

Today, I would like to share the inspirational story of Vessi.

Vessi is originally from Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. She moved to the USA to pursue her education. Her plan was to go back after graduation. One opportunity led to another, she decided to stay. She is still in the United States 14 years later.

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 8.24.43 PM

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

I met Vessi in June 2012 during an intercultural event that I organized for 15 expatriate members of the InterNations LA Community.

Last month, Vessi told me that she was training to run the LA Marathon. I was not only excited for her but also inspired by her cause.

I joined her friends who was waiting for her after the Marathon. She accepted to share her story with us.

Vessi, what inspired you the most when you decided to run the LA marathon? How did you learn about it?
We are all busy and are always preoccupied with our daily tasks, work, chores, etc. However, when one looks back in life and thinks about the most memorable and most fulfilling moments, the moments that bring a smile on one’s face, it is usually the memories with family and friends and non-work related activities that come to mind first. One rarely remembers a successful day at the office or making the number.

I also thought that running the 2013 LA Marathon, would be a healthy way to start the year, a positive way to challenge myself, and a good way to introduce a better work-life balance in my life.

Before signing up for the 2013 LA Marathon, I had enjoyed jogging (though the longest run I had ever done was 5-6 miles). Running a marathon had always been something at the back of my mind (on my bucket list) but I never acted on it. And so, in late October 2012, I decided not to delay any longer.

However, I did not decide to do this alone. One day my dear friend H. and I were chatting. We had been doing the occasional runs in Pan Pacific and Griffith Park. H. was also thinking about training for a triathlon. And so he asked me: “Why don’t we sign up to run the LA Marathon?” At that moment, I had two choices. I could easily make an excuse NOT to do it due to work, being “busy”, etc. OR I could rise up to the challenge and make it happen. If other people could do it, why could I not? And so I said: “Yes!” We looked at each other in the eyes, shook hands, and from that point on, it was all that mattered.

The truth is that at that time I did not even know exactly how long a marathon was. I knew it was long, probably 30km (18-20 miles) I thought…Only after I came home that night and did some research, did I find it was 26.2 miles (42.2km)! I got overwhelmed…quite a bit actually! Yet I had already made a promise to H. I had given him my word and that’s all that mattered! I had to keep my promise to him and to myself. And so I logged in online, paid my fee, and began a wonderful journey; a journey I will always remember and cherish!

How did you train for the marathon? Did you get any help? (Coach, physical trainer etc.) Tell us about your journey.

First Challenge
26.2 miles seemed like an insurmountable mountain! Will I be able to last through the full marathon? We started training at 5 miles and then gradually building up, mile by mile. And every time, I pushed myself a little more and a little more and kept surprising myself! It is amazing how your body adjusts itself, so long as you are persistent.

Second Challenge
Once I ran my first 12 miles, I knew deep inside that I will be able to complete the entire 26.2miles. I believed that it IS possible for me to finish, and that’s all that mattered!

The challenge at that stage then became remaining consistent and persistent with my training, which was not an easy task. It meant that I had to run four days a week – after work (for my short runs) and weekends (for my long runs). On my alternate days, I did circuit (cross-fit) training to keep my body strong. I had no time to do anything else but work and train. That was a conscious choice. Yet it also meant that I could not spend as much (or often any) time socializing, going to events, or doing other leisure activities.

Yes, the thought of giving up crossed my mind but only for a fraction of a second. I had set a goal and made a promise and could not give up. H. and I supported and encouraged each other along the way. On the days when we made the run, even though we both did not want to, we would reward ourselves with a trip to Don Cuco’s. No run, no Cuco’s. We were in this together and would get through it together. And we both wanted to pass our first marathon with flying colors!

I was told that if I am able to complete the entire marathon or if I finish in 5hrs or less, this would be a very good time for a first time runner. However, I could not settle for “good enough” or average. I wanted to do exceptionally well. So I set my goal to 4:30 hrs, which was based on my average pace of training runs thus far (10 min/mile). I just had to be able to keep that pace once I started my longer runs (13 miles and above). My stretch goal was 4hrs.

It is during that stage that I hit a low point. After I completed my 16mile run, my average pace came in at 10:50 min/mile (which would put me at 4:45 hour finish time). I could not see what I had done wrong during that run… I had been able to keep up my pace up to my previous long run (14-mile run). Up to that point, I had sacrificed so much and I had trained so hard. I was crushed!!! But I had to pick myself up because I am not a quitter! I am not the kind of person who would wine, go with the motions, and accept the situation as is (i.e. it is what it is). I decided to go right back into training and get better, so I can accomplish my goal. And that’s exactly what I did. However, I did not do it alone. It was not only the encouragement of my running partner but his honesty in pointing out ways in which I could improve my running. I took his constructive criticism and kept training.

And so my time in the last two weeks of training improved significantly from 10 min/mile to 8:30 min/mile for the short runs (5-8 miles) and 9:11 min/mile on the longer runs (my last 13 mile run).

How did you feel when you woke up on the day of the LA marathon? What was the best part of running the LA marathon? What was your motivation during the marathon? Tell us about your experience during the marathon.

It was my first marathon after all. I did not know what to expect. I also did not know how my body will respond beyond mile 20.2 (which was the longest run I had done during training).

The fear of the unexpected and the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of the pain that will come were all there. Yet I also knew that I had only one chance, one opportunity to do it all. And I was already determined to push myself very hard because regardless of the outcome, I did not want to look back and have regrets that I never tried hard enough, that I never pushed myself beyond the limit because the only way to grow is to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, challenge yourself, work really hard, and overcome your fears.

Two days before the marathon, my running partner twisted his knee cap playing soccer. This unfortunately prevented him from running the LA Marathon. However, his goal was to finish in less than 4hrs. So my new goal, albeit changed in the very last minute, was to beat my own stretch goal and finish in less than 4hrs. I knew he wanted to run the marathon so much. And so I really wanted to hit this new goal because after all, this was meant to be OUR race. Now I had no option but to give it my all!

And so I slowly got into line and step by step made my way to the Start Line, along with 24,000 runners.

The emotions were overwhelming. I almost teared up. It was real! It was happening! Yet that was not the time to get emotional. I had to focus on myself and on making my goal. I tuned out for a second to soak in the cheer of the crowds and get a taste of LA as another burst of positive energy, which my body and spirit needed every sip of. And then went right back into it. I had to pace down my excitement but not too much, as I had to keep going strong and pushing my body.

The training manuals recommended pacing yourself in order to save energy for later. However, I did not want to do that. I had to keep going strong because I knew what was still ahead. Furthermore, my personal principal is that what you can do today, you should do today and not put off for tomorrow! So if I could gain five minutes in the first half (to help me out in the second half), why should I pace myself? What was I saving this energy for? I only had one opportunity to make my goal!

It was amazing to see how the city of LA came together as a community to support the runners! The crowds were cheering every mile of the way. I fell in love with LA all over again – its diversity, its spirit, its energy! Along the course, I saw the dancing dragons in China town, heard the taiko drummers in Little Tokyo, enjoyed the mariachi bands in Olvera Street, my heart skipped at the tunes of salsa and merengue in Echo Park, felt energized by the beats of techno music in Hollywood, was smiling at the drag queens in West Hollywood, was a bit distracted passing by the stores on Rodeo Drive, … Essentially, I had a mini tour of LA, except that I was running it, while most people usually do all of that on a tour bus ☺

My faithful cheerleaders (S., N., H., P., K., and A. ) were with me all along the way – cheering, running with me, smiling, joking, but most importantly believing in me!

At mile 16 my left leg back quads started hurting. At mile 18 my right knee started hurting. I was on pace to hit 4 hour or less up until mile 20. At mile 20, I hit the Wall… I got nauseous and light headed. I saw grey. I almost blacked out. I knew it was my body speaking, asking me to stop. But I could not. This was my race, OUR race! I had nothing to lose if I kept running. The worst that would happen is that I faint, in which case the paramedics would pick me up. However, I might lose it all if I stopped. I knew I had to break through the Wall. I did not want to look back and have regrets that I did not try to the limit. I did not want to look back and wonder what would have happened if I had kept running. There was only one way to find out – keep running! I am not a quitter! So I just kept running. My pace slowed down significantly at that point but I kept running. The miles kept getting longer and longer – 6 more miles, 5 more miles, 4 more miles, 3 more miles, 2 more miles…. But I kept running. I had my faith in God that He is with me every millisecond of the way and that He will see me through it! I envisioned reaching the Finish Line within my goal time!

And after mile 25 something happened. A fresh and powerful burst of energy kicked in. And just as I turned the corner of San Vincente onto Ocean Blvd, I saw the Finish Line in the distance. At that point I could not stop! On the contrary, I had to push even harder and finish strong. And so I sprinted the last few yards. I kept running even past the Finish Line, just to make sure I don’t slow down in the very last second (my friend A. had accurately predicted that this is what would happen ☺).

How did you feel after you crossed the finish line? What was the finish time of your first marathon?

4:16:56! I did it! After I crossed the Finish Line, emotions took over. I felt grateful that God was with me all the way; happy to know that even though my family was not there in person, they were with me in spirit; satisfied that I set a goal and achieved it and that I overcame the challenge of pushing through the Wall during the last 6 miles (even though I was not able to hit H’s goal time, I knew that I gave it my all and that I pushed myself to the limit trying to get there; ultimately my actual pace was better than my average training pace!); joyful and blessed that I had my friends who all met me with a cheer at the Finish Line; and thankful for having friends (who were genuinely happy for me) to share all of this with, which made this a special day, a lifetime memory. I am grateful!

Some incredible shots before and after the marathon.

Would you run another marathon? Yes. Which one? I am not sure yet. San Francisco, Chicago, Long Beach are a few that come to mind. The Boston Marathon is a stretch goal but you never know…I like a challenge!

Which advice would give someone who wants to run the LA marathon? And achieve a big goal? Believe it and you will achieve it! Envision success! Follow through and be persistent!


Four photographers capture the 2013 L.A. Marathon using time lapse photography. This is what happened in two minutes


Tell us more about your experiences in the United States.

How long have you been living in Los Angeles? About 4 years.

What do you like best about your American experience? I came to this country with two suitcases and a lot of hope, faith and determination. By God’s Grace and with the support of my family and friends along the way, I accomplished a lot. It is rewarding to see that your hard work can pay off and that in this country you are given the opportunity to start from nothing and prove yourself. I believe in the American Dream!

Life in Los Angeles? I love LA! As I have traveled a lot across the US and have moved quite a bit. As such, I can confidently say that it is the best city in the US! LA has everything one can dream of – great weather, diversity of people and activities, cultural life, and a large international airport (which makes going home to visit my family easier ☺)

Have you encountered any problems while moving and living in the USA? Challenges arise every day, regardless of where you are. However, you have to think positive, as positive thoughts attract positive energy. We have a choice – to sit and complain OR to do something about the problem, solve the issue, fight through the challenge and overcome it. I view every challenge as a learning experience, an opportunity to help me grow. And I am thankful!

What has been your best moment while living and working in Los Angeles?
Making new friends and experiencing the flavor of LA – the beach, salsa dancing, the arts, great food.

Are you facing some type(s) of challenges or difficulties while living in the USA? I miss my family! They are a big and important part of my life. However, a big part of my life is here too. I am still trying to discover the perfect middle/solution that will make me fully happy. This is my choice though and I am confident that one day I will find the answer.

How easy or difficult is it to make friends in LA? Not difficult. Just like everything else in life, if you want it, you have to make time for it. So if you want to meet people, meet people. There are different venues – the gym, hobbies, professional organizations (like Internations LA!), etc.

What advice would you give to other expats who are yet to live and work in the USA? Be positive. Do not judge. Try to understand the other culture and learn form it.
And if you do not like it or if staying here (or in any other foreign country for that matter) makes you unhappy, then leave. You are not chained to here and noone is forcing you to stay. The World is so small and so flat today and most of us are blessed to have the liberty to make our own choices and move freely. So if Your Happiness is not here (in the US), you are free to make a change and find it elsewhere.

What are you most excited about right now? What is the next big thing you are looking forward to? It’s a secret ☺

What is your occupation? Financial Services (Commercial Banking).

Thank you Vessi for inspiring us.


101 things to do in Los Angeles

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Looking for things to do in Los Angeles? Time Out Los Angeles got us covered tons of options—101, to be exact. Whether you’re a culture vulture, outdoorsy type or simply a lover of our fine city, there’s more than enough here to keep you busy. How many will you try?

This is a great guide to the best things to do in LA this season, from stair hikes to welding workshops and more. List available here

Silicon Beach Emerges as a Tech Hotbed

Monday, July 16th, 2012

By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

His start-up Viddy, launched in early 2011, created a smartphone app that allows people to capture, enhance and share video and already has 40 million registered users. He’s raised more than $38 million in funding. And more would-be investors are circling, wondering if Viddy could be the next Instagram, the photo app that earlier this year sold to Facebook for $1 billion.

But Viddy isn’t based in the technology hotbeds of Silicon Valley and San Francisco. “It would have been a lot more challenging to create a business like this up there,” O’Brien says. Instead, Silicon Beach, a roughly 3-mile stretch of sand from Venice to Santa Monica, is home to Viddy and a host of other young tech companies with an entertainment, celebrity or mobile edge. Read more here


Keynote Inaugural Silicon Beach Fest

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Source: TechZulu

LA City Council Member Eric Garcetti gave the opening keynote for the inaugural Silicon Beach Fest, a celebration of digital innovators in startups and entertainment happening June 21 – 23.

Garcetti, who is currently running for Mayor of Los Angeles, is a fourth-generation Angeleno known for his support of digital and technology initiatives across the City. He communicates regularly with constituents using his Twitter account:@ericgarcetti.

Silicon Beach Fest, created by Digital LA and presented by engage:BDR, is LA’s first homegrown festival mixing tech, entertainment and startups. The moniker Silicon Beach refers to the technology scene in Los Angeles concentrated around the areas of Santa Monica and Venice.

The three day event happening June 21 – 23 features an impressive lineup, including speakers from investors (Rustic Canyon, Rincon, Siemer & Associates), accelerators (StartEngine, Amplify, Launchpad, MuckerLab), entertainment (Sony Pictures, FOX Broadcasting, NBC Universal, The GRAMMYs, etc.), advertising (OMD, Ignited, Deutsch, TBWA\Chiat\Day, engage:BDR), press (Forbes, Investor Business Daily, LA Business Journal), startups (Viddy, BeachMint, ShoeDazzle, Pose, PromoJam, PageWoo, Honest) and more.




Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Source: Tara Tiger Brown on Forbes

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 from San Francisco, I wasn’t very excited about the move because I’m a technologist and moving away from the tech hub of the world to the land of Botox seemed like a really bad career move. I assumed that the people of Los Angeles were disingenuous, attention whores and didn’t know anything about technology.

My husband coerced me into moving to SoCal because he would rather get a tattoo of Tinkerbell than rent an over-priced faux-loft in San Francisco. He asserted that the Web 2.0 or tech startup people do the same thing day after day, go to the same bars, the same coffee shops and work on products that aren’t discernible from a pet rock, and are geared toward the same 100 bot followed Twitter celebrities that are stuck together with gorilla glue on a postage stamp.

I didn’t agree with him, of course, because I was having a great time riding my bike 1.2 miles every day to my favorite coffee shop and then to the music marketing tech startup where I worked. After a day of tweeting all of the awesome agile releases we did, I would head to my favorite bar in the Mission District and hangout with web celebrities hoping they would mention my name when they tweeted.

Once I moved my pod of stuff to the beach in Los Angeles, my world opened up like a fairytale pop-up book. My view on what was technically possible through the eyes of graffiti artists, photographers, entertainers, musicians, talented technologists and even surfers while having a 10 mile radius of personal space looked a lot more interesting. I began to realize that only hanging out with technologists allowed for a very narrow view on the world and that living within 46.9 square miles versus 100 times that was akin to living in an Amish community and trying to comment on the new Tesla Model X. Or a fish bowl, take your pick.
In 2010 I co-founded a tech startup and began to meet other people in the LA startup community and was pleasantly surprised to discover how many there were–and I was pleased to see how many are run by women. AngelList, a community of startups, lists 1400 startups and 1300 investors in LA and that’s just a subset of the total number.

Recently The Lean LA Startup Circle hosted a panel of LA Incubators led by the a well know Silicon Valley based Angel InvestorDave McClure. Other than the fact the panel was all white men (something Dave pointed out and said that there is a real opportunity for women and people of color to start an incubator) it was very well moderated and full of useful nuggets for aspiring LA entrepreneurs.

Some of those accelerators and incubators are listed here: and here. Read more here



Anthony Bourdain – The Layover – Los Angeles

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Get suggestions on where to eat, stay and have fun in LA.


Pacific Standard Time

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

This October, the international spotlight shines on Los Angeles as over 60 cultural institutions come together to celebrate the birth of postwar art in LA; a time when LA-based artists radically transformed the art scene. The highways and byways of the Southland will connect through visual arts venues as they simultaneously present art made in LA during the four decades in which LA emerged as a major force in the art world.


The Los Angeles Video Project

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

The On Location program challenges filmmakers to showcase the many attributes of Los Angeles in four minutes or less. After reviewing numerous submissions, 22 finalists premiered their films on May 21, 2011 at Sunset Gower Studios.

Volunteers Help Schools and Organizations Hit By Recession

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Tens of thousands of people across California spent the past weekend cleaning, fixing, and painting. The three day volunteer event called Big Sunday has been held every year since 1999. But many Californians say there was an even greater need for volunteers this year because of the economic recession. Elizabeth Lee visited some work sites in Los Angeles to find out how the event is helping local communities.

If you want to help build communities through community service, visit Big Sunday here