Back at it // ASIA - December 2017
“If you would have told me at the beginning of this year that I would be conquering two continents with 1IN700, I probably would have looked at you like you were crazy. Not just crazy, but totally delusional because if there was anything I had learned over the past couple years working on this, it was that good, solid progress takes REAL time.”
Sometimes I write things in my phone or on this little notebook I carry with me that jar my memory to how I am feeling in that exact moment. What is above really expresses this moment of “HOLY CRAP” that I was having every time I packed another item in my big travel backpack. “This is actually happening” I would think every time I zipped a pocket shut. But now I am here. I have been here for over two weeks now and I am in love with it. Now...that doesn’t discount how tough it has been at the start. From forever lost luggage, what felt like perpetual jet lag, and feeling flat out yucky for a few days...needless to say it hasn’t all been sunshine and smiles.
People have this impression that when I go abroad and if I don’t post for a week or two that I have either disappeared into some foreign abyss or that I have decided to stop the project all together but the truth is...I am an artist that goes through waves of inspiration just like all of my other brothers and sisters in the arts. I am fueled by experiences and to have post like this one is going to be, I need to go through some ups and downs to bring that to light. So, here we go. You ready for a “Life Re-cap” of the last 6 months? Hang on tight!
POST Europe I felt my light dim a bit; my heart and soul needed a serious recoup. The company needed restructuring and I had to find ME again before I could continue on with “1IN700.” So I went to New York City. To a place where at the beginning of my adult life I fell in love with. It KICKED MY 18 YEAR OLD BUTT THOUGH! I was often broke, desperately trying to hold onto a place to live, eating minimally because well, lets be honest, nothing is cheap in the Big Apple. But it was home. I groomed me for what was to come. I held my head high when traveling and people would ask me where I lived...”Oh me? I actually live in New York...Yes, New York City.” If only people knew how I lived though, haha, they wouldn’t have been so jealous. I realize now that what they were jealous of was my intense, passionate love for “The City of Opportunity,” as I like to call it. I was free. I was free to express exactly who ‘ZACK’ was. I wanted nothing more other than to sort that all out. I felt like the weight of hiding was finally gone and NYC showed me exactly what kind of guts I would need to survive and THRIVE in the journey that was to be my life.
When I arrived in the city this time, something was incredibly different inside me. Maybe it was the international travel or living in L.A. for 3 years...I wasn’t sure, but I felt...off. I landed a part time gig at a Boxing Inspired group fitness class called “Rumble” where I made friends and a little family. We all had a serious love for the brand and a high motivation to push our bodies to their limits. The job was great, my coworkers were amazing, my bosses were the coolest, and I do find myself missing the crew from time to time.
Dagmara was one of the first trainers I fell in love with. She’s not only gorgeous but a downright awesome human (who will kick your butt in the gym).
A lot of investors would bring their puppies in and leave them with us while they were in class. Jackson was a fav of mine.
Aliyah was one of those people you can’t help but be excited to be around. She’s got an infectious laugh and an even more beautiful smile. Broadway better watch out for this babe!
This is still my phone background
The mighty New York native: Beth Goldy shot by me :)
Rumble OG’s and the famous power couple: Andy and Julia Stern shot by me :)
Arguably the most lowkey hilarious girl at Rumble and the best hugger: Sara Lipson. Miss this one dearly.
View from the fire escape I spent countless nights on pondering my purpose ^
My stay in the big city was short lived this time around. I found myself getting on the subway listening to sad music as the hustle and bustle of rush hour swarmed around me. I also cried by myself more than I would like to admit. Nothing was really “wrong” persay, but this did not feel right. Then I had this break after work one day. I had just finished a Rumble class after a 4:30am shift, probably didn’t eat enough food to refuel after burning close to 1,000 calories in 45 minutes, and my body finally let me know I was not okay.
Picture this: I walk onto the subway platform in the middle of summer (there is no AC on any of the subway platforms, only on the actual train) post sweaty boxing sesh, post POST 7 hour shift, to literally hundreds of people trying to cram onto the same 6 train as I am. I let the first go by as I turned up the volume on my music trying to drown out the enormous amount of anxiety clumping up in my through. You know that saying, “We were packed like sardines!” Well this was like if they took what should be in 4 cans of sardines and packed them into 1 can that was half the original size. The next train came and it was not at all any better, but I was tired of sweating and really just wanted to get home to lay down. I stood by the entrance of the train, knocking shoulders with my fellow commuters and just barely make it past the threshold of the sliding doors. They close and I am stuck. I immediately felt like something really awful was about to happen. Something wasn’t right. My heart began to race, I felt tears coming to my eyes, and guess what happened next? I started HYSTERICALLY laughing (weird right?). All people who know me have probably witnessed my nervous laugh, I’ve also mentioned it a few times in some posts. It was like that but X36876483746825687 and not so cute. Then I felt a wave of heat start at the base of my back and rush over my head and my breathing labored. I just kept repeating out loud...in front of the entire packed full 6 train: “I HATE THIS PLACE! HAHAAAA I REALLY HATE THIS PLACE!” I got off at the next stop and just sat down on the platform. A couple passengers got off and asked if I was okay and at this point the laughing had ceased, my skin was now bone-white, and I could hardly breathe. Everyone and everything was blurry at this point but I could feel the presence of a few people really trying to care for me but their voices sounded as if I was underwater. One took my shirt off and dumped her bottle of water soaking it like a rag and then laid it on my back,
“That felt good. Focus of the good feelings” I kept thinking.
Another woman raised my chin and stuck a straw in my mouth, I instinctively sipped and tasted a cold strawberry smoothie.
“GET ME NINE OF THOSE” I shouted in my mind.
A man pressed his fingers onto my wrist, I knew he was checking my pulse.
“He’s coming back, it’s going to be okay. We got you buddy. Just breathe.”
Those words echoed throughout my head and it was like magic, I could focus my sight again, I wasn’t so hot anymore, and words were finally starting to form from the mumbles. The next few minutes were fuzzy but I remember getting my address out to the man that took my pulse and next thing I knew, I was in an air conditioned cab driving up 3rd Avenue.
I don’t remember any of the people’s names who helped me and I only kind of remember their faces but these angels helped me through what was probably a massive anxiety attack. I got home, slept for about 6 hours, woke up and knew it was time for a change.
Fast forward to right now where I am sitting in South East Asia excited to continue the journey I began three years ago. I am LITERALLY doing everything I set out to do and it is exhilarating. There’s no way I could do this without the help of my new team who have started in on pushing myself and the project forward.
Allow me to make the introductions:
Vice President // MICHELLE TONACCHIO
Michelle Tonacchio has been a vital piece of the team since the very beginning. She first stumbled across one of my first Facebook posts explaining what exactly I was planning to do.
“I loved his passion and boy it was contagious! I immediately knew that I HAD to follow his journey.”
Initially when she reached out, she just explained that she wanted, in some capacity, be involved in the rise of this project. Michelle had just began selling cleft awareness items with her new business “Little Weaving Willow,” named after her cleft affected daughter Willow. She came up with her own creative way to contribute to the cause by making 1IN700 merchandise and donating ALL of the proceeds to the company and it’s startup expenses. Michelle is the brains behind the 1IN700 heart logo that has become a company staple and truly carried a beautiful meaning to all those involved.
With her passion, organization, and ambition, Michelle has all of the makings of a perfect VP.
Secretary // DANIELLE ZIERER
Danielle Zierer is a name quite a few people in the community will recognize due to her heavy involvement in educating. She runs “Cleftopedia,” a platform used solely to inform families and new cleft affected parents about the resources available. Being involved in cleft awareness has been a serious passion of hers ever since the birth of her son Will. Will was born with bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. By day, Danielle manages team effectiveness for one of the highest Sr. Leadership Teams at the global company she is employed by. She took it upon herself to get involved by creating a post in Cleftopedia that reached over 17,000 people and made contact. She was insistent that she help in anyway she could. Hyper-organized, a straightforward New Yorker, and genuine human, the 1IN700 team all agreed that Danielle would be exactly what the company needs to take the next step in expanding.
Marketing - Public Relations // MEGAN STRANGE
Megan Strange is one of the newest additions to the team and has quickly shown her dedication to the 1IN700 mission. She first heard of 1IN700 when she did exactly what the doctors tell you not to do; she searched the internet high and low to prepare herself for the birth of her daughter Hattie. Megan extended her hand to help in anyway she could and eager to fill this position with someone who’s passion burned as bright as the rest of the squad. With her experience owning her own marketing firm Megan brings a strong vision of how to maximize 1IN700’s reach. Megan fully grasps that 1IN700 is a project to help those cleft affected own their scar but also not use it as a crutch; that these individuals are not only resilient and pillars of strength, but are also capable and beyond qualified to rise.
Liaison Coordinators // CATHERINE & ANTHONY TOWNS
Cathy & Anthony Towns are a husband and wife duo 1IN700 has welcomed aboard. However, these two have a unique perspective and story that connects them to the cleft community. Anthony was born with a bi-lateral cleft lip and palate and their first and only child Triston was born with the exact same cleft type. They first heard of the company at 1IN700’s “infant stage,” and have since played an active role assisting in 1IN700’s expansion to Texas. Cathy has worked extensively (20+ years) in the mental health field and truly understands how beneficial body positivity is to the general public and even more so to the cleft community. Anthony has over 15 years experience in the nonprofit world and has trained over 100,000 soldiers in the U.S. Air Force. Both have a strong understanding and background in leadership and management. Together they are an ideal team to be one of the first lines of communication to anyone interested in collaborating and/or getting involved with 1IN700.
This team is unstoppable and a total force when it comes to making 1IN700 what it is. I am more grateful than words could express for the mental, emotional, physical, and financial support everyone has given “1IN700” and the all around love is what fuels me to keep it pushin’...and guys, I am ecstatic to show you the work I am doing out here.
15 hour time difference got me like ^
That’s it for now, but I have a so many things planned the next couple months. The content will not only be consistent but it will be so darn cute it’ll hurt.
Love ya’ll <3