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2013 in review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Change

16 Jul

I don’t have a tangible connection to the Granite Mountain HotShot firefighters out of Prescott, Arizona. I didn’t know them. I didn’t know their families. I didn’t even have a sixth degree of separation. Even when I lived in Arizona, I wasn’t near Prescott. I resided 80 miles outside, in Tempe. When I heard about the out of control wildfire on Yarnell Hill that took their lives, I was distraught in a personal sense. A sense that alarmed me.

It’s normal to feel sad for your “home” state when a tragedy strikes, but what I felt wasn’t normal. As soon as I heard of the 19 fallen, I became obsessed with their individual stories: A stunningly handsome father of four…a newly married father-to-be…a 21-year-old rookie. Last Tuesday, I tuned into the memorial service online, where it was live-streamed to the nation. By the end of the service, I was in tears. This was slightly problematic, since I work in an open office. My tears were only protected by three cube walls.

What was wrong with me? Sure, I should feel empathy. That’s normal. What wasn’t normal was how personally affected I was. I hadn’t felt anything like this since 9/11. There had to be something more.

The answer came to me last Saturday morning. I was teaching a PR writing class at NYU and I had my students take turns reading an article about one of the fallen firefighters aloud (the lesson was on persuasive writing). By the end of it, one of my students said it was one of the best pieces of writing she’d ever read. Why was that, I asked. She replied it was because it made you think; to live every moment to the fullest. Not wanting to put words in her mouth, I asked if she meant one of the key takeaways was appreciation. She nodded emphatically.

It was at that moment my strange connection to this tragedy became clear: I was sad because of the situation, sure. More so, I was subconsciously telling myself that life is incredibly precious and I wasn’t doing enough to live it to the fullest. Truth be told, half of my tears were for me.

By nature, I’m a fearful individual. I hate change. I seek comfort. I don’t particularly take chances. I’m also the queen of “what ifs” or “maybe laters,” hoping that if it’s meant to be, it will somehow work itself out.

The problem is, my somehows always turn into somedays. My somedays turn to nevers. I’ve had chances to love Mr. Right. A few times. I’ve missed them. I’ve had chances to change my professional path. I’ve passed. I’ve had chances to stop and smell the roses. I’ve run on by.

Before you think I’m an epic failure at living, there are areas where I excel. For example, when I’m teaching, nothing else in the world matters. My heart is full, I’m working at capacity, and I’m taking in every single moment. When I’m with my friends, I’m an active listener, an avid hugger, and a “I love you” advocate. I’m also a loving sister and daughter. Family first, always.

Reading about the lives of 19 fallen firefighters gone in the blink of an eye, it made me realize I need to do better than part-time life-liver. I need to make it my full-time job. Everything else is just details.

Starting today, I’m going to say “yes” more often. I’m going to love more freely. I’m going to change it if it doesn’t make me happy. I’m going to stop giving my friends advice I don’t follow.

You should too.

Love, Part 3 of 5: She’s Just Not That Into You

4 Mar

Even if you didn’t see the 2009 all-star movie adaptation of “He’s Just Not That Into You” (helloooo Bradley Cooper), you are probably familiar with the premise of the famous self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. If not, here is the synopsis: Men aren’t complicated. They don’t send mixed signals. In fact, men are pretty black and white. The long and short of it is this: If you are boring your girlfriends obsessing over if he likes you or not, he’s probably not that into you. Trust me, this is not an easy concept for any emotionally charged woman to accept. We are hard-wired to obsess, over-analyze, gossip, worry, freak-out, misunderstand, etc. Especially over the opposite sex.

I was one of these women for the better part of 25 years. Then-somehow between my high school sweetheart marrying my college roommate and my last breakup-I completely changed. Now, I tend to play the role of dude with every guy I date. I’m the girl who wishes someone would write a book for guys on the subject: “She’s Just Not That Into You.”

Now that I’ve started dating again, I really (really) wish this book existed. Dating is exhausting. Allow me to clarify: Actually “going out” with someone is the easy part. The exhausting part is the “Are we on the same page?” dance post first date. The texts. The emails. The phone calls. The “Are we going to have a second date?” question. Even worse, the “I’m pretty sure only one of us felt this was a date” situation (So awesome. Not). Ugh. Can I just pop out of a lantern like “I Dream of Jeannie” and already be married to my hot, amazing, funny, non-cheating husband and have 1.5 adorable well-behaved children? No? Fine. Whatever. You all stink. Keep reading.

I’m not alone. As single, busy adults in our late 20s, none of us have time for guessing games. Instead, we need to grow up, read the signs for what they are, and either move in or or move on. This is when mutual understanding of “Just Not That Into You” would really come in handy. Today, I’m going to help the chicas a bit (cue empowering Beyonce song).

A quick little note before we begin. Of late, I’ve grown some serious cajones. If I’m not feeling a guy after a few times we’ve been out, I tell him in the nicest way possible. It’s a lot easier than you think, the whole honesty thing (Go figure, I know). It’s truly not that hard to say “Hey, it’s been awesome getting to know you, but I just don’t think we’re a good match,” or “I don’t think this is going anywhere romantically, but I do see a good friendship. Would that be OK with you?” These aren’t lines, they are truth. Wasting someone’s time isn’t cool. Neither is playing with their feelings.

Alright ladies, I hear you. Most of you aren’t comfortable being this forward with a guy. Instead, you wish there were subtle ways you could give him the hint without being mean. This latter part being the key: Without being mean. This means not partaking in mean girl behavior like not answering his texts, phone calls or lying to get out of dates (See “the Shimmy Out” blog post from a few weeks ago). All of these are terrible ways of telling him you’re not interested. Don’t do it. Refrain.

So how do you let him down easy? My hot list of “She’s Just Not That Into You” pointers, that’s how. Read up and take it all in. All of the following will help him get the hint. Even better, he won’t think you’re a bitch throughout the process. Winner winner chicken dinner.

“She’s Just Not That Into You”: Strategies to Achieve

1. No Touchie: Men are sensitive to touch. If a woman touches a man while hanging out (the arm, leg, shoulder, face, etc.) he takes it as a sign you find him attractive. If you aren’t into him, DON’T touch him except for a polite hug at the beginning and end of the hang out

2. No Kissing: Women like to make out. They make out with a guy even if they don’t like them because, well, it’s something to do (I’m lumped in here, too). NO kissing him. Period. He will get the wrong idea. This brings us to #3

3. Two Drink Rule: A drunk woman = a flirty woman. Flirty sometimes leads to more than that and you’ll hate yourself later. Leave it at two drinks (max) and go home…or go meet up with your girlfriends and drink your face off there

4. 50/50: Always offer to split the check. If he won’t let you, make sure you make it a point to say you’ll get whatever the next thing you’re doing and/or next time you hang out (as FRIENDS). Paying for a woman = date mode. Take the date part out of it by offering to pay

5. Talk About Dating: Please note I’m NOT suggesting you bring up your exes. That’s awful, mean and rude. Instead, I’m suggesting you talk about the dating “landscape” and ask him active questions about his experience dating in your city…you get the point. Friends talk to other friends about how awful it is to be single. If you are moving him to the friend zone, this topic can be brought up. It drops the hint you are not on a date

6. Ring Ring/Type Type: If he calls, do not call him right back. Wait a little bit. This shouldn’t be hard (because you don’t really like him, anyway). If you really liked him, you’d call him back 2.5 seconds after he called and drop everything to do so. However, make sure you DO call him back at some point (Because otherwise, you’re mean). Here’s a good rule of thumb: Watch one Lifetime movie or three of your favorite sitcoms before calling him back. This is a long enough time. Same goes for text messages, emails, FB, Twitter…the list goes on

7. Every Two Weeks+: If he likes you, he will ask you to hang out at least once a week. Do not do that. Every two weeks (plus) is sufficient if you have no interest in dating him. Any more frequent and it will send the wrong message

Hint to dudes: There ARE times she won’t call you/write you back for a long time because she’s genuinely busy/not available. If there is a long time in-between, there is one tell-tale sign if she meant to or not: If she was really tied up, she’ll apologize it took so long to get back to you and give you a reason. For example, “Hey there! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been at the hairdressers/gym/writing a paper, etc. Can I call you back in 20?”

8. Beauty Tone-Down: Find a balance between looking hot-and not-and go with that look. You do not want to wear your best outfit/try out your best lip gloss when you are going out with this guy if you aren’t really into him. Instead, save those clothes/make-up/hair poofing for a guy you really like

9. Daytime Fun for Everyone: Keep nighttime hangouts to a minimum, as many nighttime activities scream “date” to a guy. Instead, try museums, bowling, walks/runs, parades…ok, well maybe not parades, but you see where I’m going with this. Keep weekend hangouts to a minimum/non-existent level, too. A guy hates giving up a weekend night to a woman. Period. If he likes you-and he gives up a weekend night with the boys to take you out-it’s big. It means he picked YOU over going out and finding other women. If you know you don’t like him, end it before it gets to a Friday/Saturday night hang out. It’s only fair

10. Group it Up: Suggest hanging out with other friends-his or yours-when you hang out. If he’s not getting the hint with numbers 1-9 above, this one should help. If you keep suggesting to hang out with other people, it screams friend zone

Ladies, honesty is the best policy. If you’re a few dates in and you aren’t feeling it, it’s always better to be upfront. He’ll understand and respect you for it, promise. If he doesn’t, he’s the bitch, not you. However, if you really can’t bring yourself to tell him, tips 1-10 should help the process along. It may take a bit longer, but he’ll get the hint and move on, as you will too.

Share this blog with your friends and don’t forget to leave your comments. I love hearing from you.

Love, Part 2 of 5: the “Coupled-Up” Complex

18 Feb

As you enter your late 20s/early 30s, the “single” pool slims. In fact, you probably only have a handful of friends left in the “Hey, I’m single” group. Or – if you’re me – don’t even have a handful. To be truthful, I only have up to my middle finger (ironic finger to have on this topic, no?). It wasn’t always like this. When I first moved to New York (2010), I had tons of single friends. We all went out. We all partied. We were each other’s wingmen/women. We never had to check with another person to schedule a night out. Easy breezy.

I blame myself for ruining this wonderful scenario, as the above only lasted a few weeks. I got a boyfriend three weeks after moving to the city.

At first, I told all my friends nothing would change. I’d still hang out with everyone just as much, see him sometimes, etc. Later down the road, he and I had numerous conversations about having our own space and having separate friends. This all sounded great in theory, but the reality was we did everything together and never left the other’s side. When we actually hung out with other people, we did that together, too. Truly, you could have given us one of those annoying Brangelina nicknames. Not once did I ever think about how my single friends may be feeling or think I was doing anything wrong. Instead – in my head – I was doing the best I could trying to balance boyfriend and friends. They had to understand, right?

Wrong. It wasn’t until after my boyfriend left me for another woman I realized how much I needed my friends. In the following months – as I was trying to reconnect with everyone – I not only learned how hurt they were by my long absence, but learned how much being in a “couple” changed me as a person and changed how I interacted with my friends. In short, I sucked. Big time.

When you are “coupled-up,” you change in many ways. Your priorities change. Your conversations with your friends change. Your attitude about life changes. What you find fun changes. Your expectations of others change. Honest Abe? You aren’t the same person you were before the relationship.

I’m not saying this to be Negative Nancy (who, to be clear, has no relation to Honest Abe). Us singles are thrilled for our “coupled-up” friends. Honestly, we want what you have. Hell, we’re happy for you even if we don’t particularly like your other half. Our job – as your friend – is to be supportive. When we end up really liking your other half, it’s amazing. It’s even more amazing when we become really good friends with them. They make you happy and we usually love having them around. Score.

I know what you’re thinking – “coupled-up” reader – if we like your other half (or, even if we are just being supportive), and you still see us (even if it’s with him), then what is our problem?

This is going to sound harsh. The problem is you’re in a relationship with us, too. Your relationship with us requires a certain amount of empathy, respect, time, and energy. It also requires a certain amount of quality time away from your significant other, so we can speak freely, connect with just you, and remember what it was like pre boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband.

Of course, we can’t tell you all this. Instead, we are stuck in the awkward position of just dealing with it. Or, hinting around it (even more awkward). Without you getting mad, how can we say “Hey, we totally love Michael. We really do. He’s perfect for you. But can we please have you to ourselves, just for a night? You don’t understand why it’s so important to us, but it is.” Being single is hard enough without thinking we are losing our friend to this “coupled-up” complex.

Are you starting to think about your own actions? Let me make it easy. Here are the top five gripes (plus a bonus) single friends have with their “coupled-up” ones:

1. We invite YOU somewhere, yet you respond with “We’d love to” or “We can totally stop by.”
Again, we may love your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband, but if we didn’t specifically invite them, it was probably for a reason. Thus, getting a “we” response is kinda a slap in the face.

2. We’ve hinted at quality time (either solo, just “the girls,” or just “the boys”) and you’ve made no effort to plan OR you don’t whole-heartedly agree (“OMG, you’re right. We haven’t hung out in a while. Totally overdue”).
In this, you make us feel secondary or simply not important at all. Not cool.

3. When we do hang out with you and your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband, you bring other couples.
Um. Hello? What about us? Do you have any idea what an all-couple night out feels like to the token single person? Let me enlighten you – it feels like someone is pushing your head through one of those airport X-ray machines. Great visual, right?

4. You stand us up.
You either cancel our plans all together and/or “forget” you already had something scheduled with your honey and do that instead. Oh, and the “We had a rough night and are going to stay in” or “We are so comfy at home right now” totally counts. Personally, my favorite is getting the latter, then being asked if I want to join in plans some other day. Newsflash – I alloted this time to hang out with you. I’m a busy gal and probably can’t jump at the replacement time. Sorry.

5. We always feel like a third wheel.
It doesn’t matter how awesome your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband is, when we are out with just the three of you, we always feel like the odd man out. God bless you for trying to include us. We truly appreciate it. However, we only go because we want to see you. Not because we like the experience.

BONUS. You don’t think the same things are fun anymore.
We get it. When you are “coupled-up” your idea of fun changes. When you stay in, you cook dinner, watch tv, and enjoy each other’s company over a few bottles of wine. When you go out, you aren’t looking for interaction with the opposite sex. Unfortunately, us singles are still looking and thus, are counting on the company of others to help us out. Further, we understand you don’t want to do the things we did when you were single: out till 5 a.m., meet new people, dance the night away, beer pong championship…Fine. However, sometimes – just sometimes – it would be fabulous if you would do one or more of these things for us. In return, we promise not to complain once about your PDA. Not. Once.

Dear “coupled-up” friends: We love you. We really do. We also probably love your other half. However, we don’t want to compete with your current relationship. We want to enhance it. We also want our relationship with you to stay in-tact and/or grow. In this, you need to give us – your single friends – some consideration and care. We promise to do the same when love enters our lives.

Cue Heart’s “Alone.”

Please be sure to share this blog post with all your “coupled-up” friends.

Love, Part 1 of 5: Dating Dunzo: “The Shimmy Out”

7 Feb

I’m going to come right out and say it: Dating blows. If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, my feelings on the subject aren’t news to you. Instead, finally dedicating an entire blog series to the subject seems way overdue.

Before I begin, let me be clear: I am NOT one of those man-hating women complaining about the opposite sex all the time, nor will “man-hating” ever be a topic of discussion. Further, I am not one of those women who thinks a bad dating experience is all a man’s fault. In fact, I think the bad experience is the woman’s fault much of the time. Wait one second though – before all my female readers start sending me hate mail – I have a good reason:

Women are fantastic at knowing if something is going SOMEWHERE very quickly. If she’s wavering and thinks dating this guy is going nowhere, she develops tactics to “shimmy” her way out. Hence, ending the experience becomes this long, arduous, stressed-filled process for absolutely no good reason (You could – *gasp* – just tell him you’d be better off as friends. Not a fun conversation, but at least honest).

Is this “shimmy out” fact about women enlightening? Before I take a deep dive into the topic, I want to provide some context on two things: What goes through a woman’s mind on a date and close-to-perfect dates that happen now and again. Both will help set up the stories of the lame-o “shimmy out.”

Men: Do you know how many times women hear “just be yourself,” “relax,” or “you’ll be fine” before a date with you? Our moms say it. Our friends say it. Hell, when we’re really nervous, we think our stuffed animals are saying it. However, while we are on the date, all of this good advice goes out the window. Instead we spend the time wondering if our hair is OK, if we’re pretty enough, or does our breath smell like the chili margarita we had two hours ago. P.S. – While we are obsessing over our physical appearance and a dude’s body language, we are also freaking out about our behavior. Are we talking/laughing too loud? Not looking at him enough? Looking at him too long? Asking too many questions? Not making him laugh enough? I’m exhausted just talking about it.

Of course, there is an exception to the above stress: A concept called “love at first date.” This concept may sound silly, but I really believe it can happen. These are the dates where everything is perfect. He magically makes us feel comfortable and confident. He looks adorable. We spend three hours discussing favorite Johnny Depp movies and rolling meatballs to each other with our noses (hey, Lady and the Tramp did it). Whatever your idea of “perfect,” you get the point: The date was awesome and subsequent dates are seamless and enjoyable. Before we know it, the girlfriend/boyfriend label magically appears. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Sigh. If only it happened to all of us.

For the rest of us, dates are usually “fine,” “good,” or “promising.” Subsequent dates are then “better” “something to do,” or “omg I need to call ___ as soon as I get home.” What’s interesting about the latter two buckets is we know dating this person is probably going nowhere, yet we don’t necessarily want to stop seeing the guy. Dating him is “good enough,” but doesn’t make us “happy” or “fulfilled” (two things we consider highly between dates 5-10). So, instead of breaking it off, (like we should) women do one of three things:

1. Drag it out as long as we can (because it’s better than being alone)
2. Slowly phase him out
3. Conduct the lame-o “shimmy out”

I’ll get into #’s 1 and 2 in different blog posts, but today I want to focus on the “shimmy out.” It’s the one no one talks about.

Disclaimer: I’m calling myself out here, as I’m more than guilty of using the “shimmy out” on multiple occasions.

First, let’s do a little defining…

“Shimmy Out” (n) = a concept, post-subsequent romantic “dates” or encounters, when a person knows the person they are seeing will not end up a significant other. Even though this is known, the person feeling this way does not necessarily want to end the dating experience because they are A. Chicken. B. Bored. C. In denial. Thus, the person conjures up excuses to avoid seeing the person and hopes with enough avoidance, the other person will stop trying (I totally made this up, but it sounds intelligent, right?)

When This Strategy is a Woman’s Best Friend: When we know the guy likes us more than we like him.

Some Common “Shimmy Out” Examples:

“I’m So Busy”: This one is classic. We tell the guy we’re dating we are crazy busy and can’t see him for weeks at a time. I’m not saying this never happens (not seeing him for a few weeks at a time – every once in awhile – is completely possible. Hey, we have many plans that don’t revolve around him). I’m talking about purposely not finding an hour for brunch or dinner or MAKING UP PLANS ENTIRELY (imaginary family in town, non-existent homework, a 10-year dead dog suddenly needs to go to the vet…) Here’s the deal: Yes, we are busy people BUT, if we see super potential in a man, and truly enjoy his company, we WILL always find time to see him. I don’t care how busy we are or seem to be. Trust me, we’ll make the time.

“This is Moving Too Fast:” In my opinion, women overuse this one on the regular. First of all, has anyone noticed we drop this line often, yet never explain the rationale behind it? Do you know why we don’t explain it? It’s because most of the time, we are full of crap. If we really like a guy and we are dating him in hopes of something more, then going at whatever pace it naturally moves – most of the time fast – is a non-issue. However, if we say this and we do have an immediate answer (we just got out of a relationship or some sort of other emotional issue) then guess what? We probably aren’t ready to be dating someone seriously, anyway. Also, (fun fact) guys can see through this line if you give it without a reason. Don’t expect him to stick around.

“I Never Check My Phone”: Lies, lies, and more lies. Women are forever checking their phones. Any guy who believes you don’t is pretty oblivious. Let’s break it down: If a guy is texting or calling, that means he’s interested. If we don’t respond, it doesn’t mean we didn’t see his text message or listen to his voicemail. We did (and to be quite honest, we probably did within the first half hour of hearing the “ding”). If we don’t respond to the text or call him back until 12-24 hours later (or at all), we really aren’t all that interested in the guy. Instead, we just want to keep him around until something better comes along (ouch).

“OMG I TOTES Didn’t Realize I Had XYZ Tonight! Can We Reschedule?”/”OMG I Suddenly Came Down With the Ebola Virus/Horse Clamp (HORSE CLAMP??). I’m Too Sick To Go Out”: Womp. Womp. Busted. The truth is we just spent the better part of an hour deciding which of these elaborate excuses we’ll use to cancel. Taking this one step further, we’ll say we’ll reschedule, but we won’t. If we do, we don’t mean it and will probably cancel the next time too. The worst part is the poor guy usually gives us the benefit of the doubt in either case, which makes this tactic plain mean. Unfortunately, this is the one we use the most because we think we’ll never get caught. News flash: We always do.

These are just a few of the many excuses women use to “shimmy out.” What’s your favorite?

Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming weeks. Don’t worry, I’m going to be writing about how guys get out of dates, too…

Vacation Anxiety…Family, Fun, Sun, and Data Plans

13 Jan

In early 2011, my entire family planned a trip to the Dominican Republic and invited me and my then-boyfriend along. By mid-year, everything was paid for and we were all really excited…that is, until August 2011 when my (now) ex walked into my room and without warning, ended our relationship. My stuff was in boxes the next day. This box included a check written out to my mother to refund his plane ticket. Needless to say, I ended up not going either. It was too painful of a reminder. After my family returned, they could not stop talking about how much fun they had or stop referencing the inside jokes along the way. It sounded like a blast and I regretted passing up the opportunity.

Fast-forward to early 2012. My mom informed me the family would be returning to the Dominican Republic in January 2013. Did I want to join? Without hesitation, I said yes. I love my family. I love sun. I haven’t had a real vacation since 2004. Why not? I got back last Wednesday and I must say, the experience was quite different from anticipated. I learned a lot about myself, as well as family dynamics.

My family is pretty close. My mom is the most generous woman alive. My dad is a logical, always helpful problem-solving superhero. My brother is 100 times cooler than I’ll ever be and my personality polar opposite. As different as we are, we are friends and siblings. My brother’s girlfriend of over two and a half years is also like family – she’s like the sister I never had and doesn’t have a problem telling me like it is, no matter the situation. All of this background sets the stage for a pretty natural chemistry. When we get together for holidays or birthdays, laughter roars. We all talk regularly. I’ve lived out-of-state since I was 22 and I’m never at a loss with visitors.

Although this vacation was wonderful – and I’m really glad I went – I was stressed out on this gorgeous island for the majority of the experience. For five days, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem, I just know I wasn’t acting like my normal, carefree, my-girl-likes-to-party all-the-time-self. Instead, I was anxious, a little reclusive, and strangely quiet. What was my problem? I’m on this amazing vacation with my amazing family and I couldn’t relax. I came home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation.

After some thought, I realized I’ve heard this story before. Many of my friends (who also live out-of-state and are in their late twenty-somethings) head home for a while or go on a trip with their family and come back feeling…defeated (for lack of a better word). Why is that?

Over the past few days, I’ve hypothesized many reasons:

Odd Man Out: My family is all coupled up, either married or in serious relationships. As wonderful as each couple was in trying to include me in activities, itโ€™s intimidating to be in that type of setting, especially when you couldn’t get more single. This is especially true when you are at an inclusive resort with absolutely no cute boys on deck (trust me, I looked).

Extra Curriculars: I work really (really) hard. I balance two jobs. Plus volunteer. Plus work out. Plus write a blog. Plus date. Plus life stuff like errands, cleaning, etc. My life is nuts. As crazy as life is, I’ve adopted another responsibility over the past year and a half: party like a rock star. I love the nightlife and am a chronic sufferer of “fear of missing out syndrome.” In this, my friends and I regularly dance the night away and have a 4 a.m. cocktail. It’s fun. I can’t explain it, but with my family, I feel like that party girl can’t quite come out like she does in NYC. Trust me, they wish this side of me came out more often while they were around, but it doesn’t. Instead, the thought makes me self-conscious.

I’m 12…All Over Again: As previously mentioned, my brother is the coolest guy ever and we’ve become really close over the years. However, by day three, it felt like he and I resorted back to the dynamic when we were kids: he thinking I was uptight and ridiculous and me being, well, uptight and ridiculous. This whole situation made me panic because I was afraid we’d annoy the crap out of each other and not be as close post-trip. This didn’t happen (thank goodness), but it got me thinking as to how you’ll never quite “grow up” within your family’s schemas. Everyone has their “role” within a family, and no matter how much you change, you’re stuck with it like a bad high school superlative. In my case, no matter how laid back and fun I’ve become over the years, I’ll always be the super type-A, academic, sensitive older O’Grady kid when insecurity rears its ugly head. On the flip side, if I was the former fun kid who became serious, I’d be constantly reminded about how fun I “use” to be. You get what I’m saying. In the eyes of your family, you’ll never really shake the person you were at age 12.

Frankie Says…Relax: I need to be honest. I thought it was going to be super easy to turn the world off and do nothing for five days. My family is great at it. They can all sit in the sun, do nothing, and be happy. To 99.9 percent of the human population, this sounds amazing. Before I left, this sounded amazing to me too. Passport in-hand, I turned my data plans off and was left with only 150 prepaid text messages. I should be good, correct?

Wrong. It turns out I am an epic failure at removing myself from the world. I need to check Facebook. I need to Tweet. I need Google searches. I’m not being dramatic. My DNA is constructed to always be connected to people. It absolutely killed me to only have access to my address book (and a few text message conversations) over vacation. I know what you’re going to say: that’s not normal. Maybe not, but it’s who I am and always been. You’re talking to a girl who had a pager at age 14 so she could be could always be available to call her friends back. Hot. Mess.

Additionally – as sick as it sounds – I’ve learned my idea of a vacation isn’t relaxation. “Relaxing” for a day or two is fine, but then I need to get out, bar hop, try new restaurants, build someone a house…you get the picture. Otherwise, have any of you seen Dirty Dancing? The structure of the camp Baby and her family vacationed? Yup, kinda like that.

Although this analysis may sound a little critical, I want to be clear: overall, I had a great time on this family vacation. I got to spend some serious quality time with my wonderful family, slept in, recharged, and ate tons of delicious food. I also have a kick-ass January tan. Sweet. However, as we grow and change within our own lives, it’s really important to understand why we don’t always feel 100 percent our “new” selves going back to our roots. The moral of the story is this: the beauty of family is that they love you no matter how you grow and change. They love you in spite of how your personality shifts. They want to embrace and love whatever person you morph into as you age. Let them. Your bonds will be stronger and trust me; your vacations with them will feel a lot more relaxing. Further, it truly doesn’t matter if you don’t love the same things they do or laugh at the same jokes. As long as you’re a good sport about it, your family is probably just happy to have you around, being part of the family. Just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you’re a disappointment.

Here’s to family vacation 2014.

2nd Annual Countdown: Lessons of 2012 (via Twitter @OGradyKL)

2 Jan

For the second year, I’m counting down the top ten lessons learned in 2012. Lessons were originally published on Twitter (@OGradyKL). One lesson per day was revealed from December 22nd – January 1st. Lessons are non-scientific (at best) and based on nothing more than my meandering (yes, and comical) experience as a later-ish twenty-something.

Enjoy and Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lesson #10: If you want something, you need to ask for it. If you don’t ask, you can’t be upset when you don’t receive.

Lesson #9: There is a delicate balance between being labeled the life of a party or the party girl. The latter isn’t cute.

Lesson #8: My Prince Charming is out there somewhere, but that somewhere isn’t anywhere alcohol is involved.

Lesson #7: A broken heart can heal, but it’s not just about time and patience. It’s about forgiveness, empathy, and letting go.

Lesson #6: Mean girls don’t go away. Instead, they get worse (and more bitter) with age.

Lesson #5: Overcommitting yourself is just as bad as always saying no. Find a happy medium.

Lesson #4: Dating advice for the awkward: when in doubt, make out. It’s fun and you totally avoid uncomfy pauses or dumb convos.

Lesson #3: Don’t let your career define you. Remember, your life outside work hours is way more interesting.

Lesson #2: You can’t be best friends with everyone, but you can be the best friend possible to everyone. Life is richer with kindness.

Lesson #1: Live every single second like it was your last. Life is too short and unpredictable to waste a moment over-thinking.