Tuesday, September 16

ThinkCab: "Dont cut from your happiness to make them happy"

As many of you know, this year has been full of work travels. In an effort to make them more interesting (and I don't know why I didn't think of this before), I'm collecting anecdotes from the cab and Uber drivers along the way. The series is called ThinkCab. I hope you'll share it and let us know if you do. 

Sunday night on my way to the hotel from O'Hare, I came across a particularly chatty cab driver. I had waited in what seemed like an endless line to get in the cab, so I welcomed the conversation. 

Originally from Palestine, he had lived in Chicago for upwards of 35 years. He had arrived in the Windy City when he was 19 and he loved the cold weather. He was a Bears fan, had Sunday Night Football commentary going on the radio and asked if the Dolphins had won. 

We somehow got to talking about work and travels and per diems. He was wondering why I was going to Oak Park and not downtown ChiTown. He suggested I get some dinner nearby.

"Don't cut from your happiness to make them happy," he said, referring to spending while on business trips. He said you'll nickel-and-dime 'em when, in the great scheme of things, it doesn't matter to the corporation.

I took it with a grain of salt. There are budgets to watch, but I knew where he was headed with his thinking.

His sister who had worked arduously at a bank for years, earning employee of the month time and time again, was laid off after her pregnancy complications. He said it didn't matter how great you were - "you could be employee of the YEAR!" - but if you messed up once, they would remember that mess up and not all of your successes.

To some degree, he was right. But what I liked most was his general message of selfishness (even though he didn't quite use that word). 

We view selfishness negatively. But is it always such a bad thing? 

We have to look out for ourselves first and foremost, and part of that means looking out for our happiness. The "you first" concept is difficult for many of us, but it's the ground for healthy relationships. 

So if the only way to make "them" (whoever they are) happy is to drive yourself mad/sad/crazy, then screw it. They're not worth it. 

I'm much less eloquent than my cab driver friend. 

With happiness,

Tuesday, August 12

Who's walking next to you?

When you find someone who's walking next to you - not behind you or in front of you, but next to you - you'll know. 

That was Mrs. Van Wyk's advice. It made sense then, and it makes sense now.

But I didn't realize until three years later that it doesn't just apply to love. What was meant as post-breakup advice was life advice - and damn good one at that.

See, three years later, this defines my relationships. My best friends, my colleagues, my sisters -- we walk next to each other.

We're a team.
We're dynamic duos and terrible trios.
We're the Boden familia.
We're the blondie to each other's brownie.
We're the partners in crime.
We're the day ones.
We're the Asoreys.

We know we're stronger together. We're better together. So we walk side by side and support each other.

But that doesn't mean we're complacent. It doesn't mean we're the same. It doesn't mean we don't push each other. Hell, sometimes it's more of a sprint than a walk.

But it does mean that we value each other. We're proud of each other.

And Mrs. Van Wyk was right: you'll just know.

Sunday, July 20

Just stopping by

Heyyyy. Hi there. Hope everything's going well!

I'm just stopping by to say a quick hello. It's been a while and I missed seeing your name pop up on my screen. I kinda miss hearing your voice, too, and seeing your face. But I'll keep it easy. Just wanted to say hey. Hope everything's going well. [Smiley face.]

Hey... you're living in New York now, right? I saw it somewhere on Instagram. Or maybe it was Facebook. Either way, now you're hundreds of miles away and I don't want you to forget I'm here. You can find me back home when you come visit. 

So I heard you landed that job. Congrats! Seems like everything's working out for you. But I want you to know everything's working out for me, too. I won't pick up the phone - no. I'll send you an essay (and halfway through I won't know if it's even worth it) just to show you I've grown. I'm the person you always wanted me to be. 

There's no one home, so, you can come over if you want... But only if you want, because I don't want you to think I want you to come. Plus, it's been a while. And it could be kinda weird. But come over, yeah, come over. 

;) It's 3 ammm. I want you. Fuck it, I miss you. Okay, maybe I've had a little too much to drink but I'm serious. What's that saying about drunk words are sober thoughts. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this. I really shouldn't be doing this. 

Hey! Just saw that friend of yours. Literally randomly bumped into him. This will be my excuse to say hey, because he'll probably tell you anyway. And I want to be on your mind when he does. 

I'm just stopping by here. To say a quick hello, to tell you that I care because something reminded me of you. It was that song and the stranger's cologne. 

I'm just stopping by here and I don't expect you to answer. It might be easier if you don't. I wanted to tell you that I miss you. Life's great, but I do miss you. Not all the time, but sometimes. And sometimes is enough...

To just stop by and say hello. 

Sunday, July 13

Hey there!

Hey all! It's been a while since I've stopped by here.

I've been a bit busy this past month. I even went on vacation -- say whatttt?!?!?! Hella good time. And I started cooking a lot more often.

I have a new blog, too. And I've also been MIA from that one.

Either my creative juices are at a standstill or I'm having trouble figuring out what's going on with my life. I'd say it's a little bit of both.

Sometimes I forget to take that step back and reflect. It's been a while and I owe it to myself. Heck, I owe it to y'all, too.

Thanks for keeping those pageviews comin' even when I'm not actively blogging. I see you ;) And I appreciate every minute of your time and ounce of support.

Y'all are the best! And - promise - something will come this week.

Los quiero,

Sunday, June 1

Perfection is bullshit

Growing up I wanted to be perfect. The perfect student with the perfect grades in the perfect home with a life that would turn out, well, perfectly.

I was rummaging through old photos this week when I came across some pre-divorce photos of my family circa the late 90s. Those days feel like an eternity ago, and sometimes most of the time, it's all a blur.

I was always the strong one. Just ask either of my parents. But you know, it felt like my life was crumbling just before my eyes. It may have been the over-dramatization of a teenage girl, but even now I think I don't give myself enough credit. I think it was then - but mostly now - that I began to understand that perfection didn't exist. Everything I knew as right was going wrong, and to some degree, it actually felt right.

I learned the beauty in vulnerability. It was a beauty that also existed in making your own mistakes. One that shined brightest when I spoke from my heart, even when I wasn't proud of what I'd said.

I wrote this piece during freshman year of high school. It was one giant metaphor about being the director of my own life -- very "I am the Captain of my soul"-esque for a 14-year-old. And I read it aloud to my class. It was the first time I'd "gone public" about the divorce.

Most of them had no idea what I was going through, because little Miss Natalie did a helluva job at playing the perfect role. But that day, I called it quits.

I've struggled since. I haven't always been so easy on myself. I still hold back tears and beat myself up for my mistakes. But I've also come a really long way.

An 18-year-old me would have cracked at the workload I now manage daily.

Even the girl I was a year ago would have second guessed herself more. She wouldn't be baking cupcakes or making homemade guac, that's for sure. Why? Because she didn't want to fail. (You should know I've burned 3 batches of cookies back to back + multiple bags of popcorn.)

But at 22, I'm proud to say I've cut myself some slack. I accept my vulnerabilities. I push myself out of my comfort zone, and I don't torture myself when, naturally, I feel uncomfortable.

Because perfection is bullshit, and I prefer to make mistakes than stroll through life. As one of my favorite quotes says,

"We're all just in here because we took a wrong turn going to church."

I think those wrong turns make life exciting.

With love & cupcakes,

Sunday, April 20

Fearless at yoga

We start every yoga class with an intention and a dedication. Its purpose is to ground you in your practice, give you something to work toward and keep you in the present.

Usually, my intention is something (difficult but) safe. Focus on your breathing, find balance, do this for your munchkin. But this morning was different. 

As I found my lotus pose and closed my eyes, I thought, "Be fearless." 


It's not usually a word I associate with yoga, but I gave it a try.

Wednesday's Practice

I sought balance on Wednesday. After an incredibly hectic couple of weeks - and two weeks of no yoga - it's what I needed most. 

I hit my first real crow that night. I held it for about two seconds, but I nearly shrieked of joy. 

Then everyone went into inversions (aka headstands), and I reveled in my crow. Baby steps. 

Then today

I took every move and listened to my body. And when our instructor lead us into crow, I was fearless.

I held it four times longer and I lifted my toes off the ground with more confidence. I tried it again and chuckled when I nearly fell forward on my face. 

I hit my Warrior 3s and eagle poses. I even stretched further down in my downward dog. 

I held wheel with strength.

Being fearless wasn't about hitting every pose. My legs shook and I moved out of some. I modified positions. But it did encourage me to approach each vinyasa with a bit more oomph - to give it a shot. 

See, when I started yoga semi consistently four months ago, I was scared to let go and listen to my body. Now I'm doing that and more. I can see and feel the progress. 

Looking at the yogi next to me flow into a tripod pose this morning, I knew I would hit it one day. The practice evolves with you. 

And that's so exciting. 


(If you haven't tried yoga, please do. BEST THING EVER.)
And happy Easter!

Sunday, April 13

It's OK

I want you to know it's OK.

It's OK to smile and grieve.

To let it out and let it go.

To [build up walls.] And break them down.

It's OK to laugh at the top of your lungs. Smile wide with shining eyes. Be carefree.

It's OK to be mad. To be frustrated. To hurt. To let the tears roll down your cheeks.

To fear, even if it's fear itself.

To blame yourself and to shift the blame.

To react strongly or not at all. To pick your battles.

To move on. To stay put.

To look in the past. To dream of your future. 

It's OK to put you first. Or not.

To be expressive. To hold it in.

To run away. To care.

To believe. To second guess.

To love and hate.

To feel.

It's OK to let yourself feel, and to let yourself act on it, too.
Just be real with yourself.
It's OK.