The Art of Being Present

Last week, I visited my college campus to pick up my diploma (long story, but my original one was damaged in the mail). And, it got me thinking.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my time at Southern. When I was in college all I could think was oh, how I can’t wait to graduate. I pictured my post grad life to be heavenly: I would be working only one job, as opposed to three, where I would be making a decent amount of money. No classes, no online internships, no many part time jobs. And it will be great.

Oh, how I was wrong. For the past few months, all I craved was a chance to go onto my campus and do college all over again. I missed it all. I missed knowing what to do, and what my role as a student was. I miss meeting friends, and hanging out with them. I miss taking classes, believe it or not, especially with those who shared the same passions for English and journalism that I had.

A year ago, if I had told you that I would miss college, then I would have thought that you were off your rocker.

Upon reflecting on this, I realized something. In both instances, I am not present. When I was in college, all I wanted to do was graduate. Now that I am in college, all I want to do is go buy a super expensive textbook. And, while I am wishing that I was somewhere else in time, I am not enjoying the cheap thrills of today.

With that, I am realizing something. I am not happy looking ahead or behind. I am ignoring the simple thrills of today, and am not savoring the sweetness of everyday life.

One of my goals is to be more present. You hear that everywhere — in self help books, or in any article about anxiety. But, what does that mean? 

I don’t know what the Webster definition of it is, but I’ll tell you mine. For me being present consists of enjoying the daily luxuries, such as great lattes, taking advantage of the sun’s rays when it’s nice outside, and cuddle sessions with my dog.

By enjoying the little things and savoring them, I think it’s one of the ingredients in the recipe for happiness. After all, anxiety occurs when you are looking too far ahead into the future, and depression occurs when you are living solely in the past. Therefore, by living in the present, by being present, one can somehow be on the road to happiness.


Too Much?

When it comes to dating, I am the type of woman that knows what she wants. I also am the type of women that does not take any crap from anyone — whether it may be a friend who is upsetting or annoying me, a guy that won’t leave me alone, or a guy that uses cheesy pick up lines in the hopes that will make me weak in the knees.

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of an online dating kick. When I talk to guys, I don’t put on a facade or pretend that I am someone I’m not. Instead, I am sarcastic and witty. I also am not afraid to go after whatever it is I want, and sure as will send the first message. Why? Because rules are stupid, and if I want to talk to someone, I will. And, if someone is trying to use some cheesy line on me, that sure as hell ain’t gonna happen either.

For some guys, it can be a bit of a turn off. That is a complete and total mystery if you ask me. I can not tell you how many times a guy has unmatched me because I saw right through the cheesy pick up line, made a clear attempt to get to know him or because I clearly stated what I want.

Well, I am so sorry for not falling for that cheesy line you’ve used for every girl on the app that you match with. I am so sorry for knowing what I want, and for not being afraid to ask for it. I am sorry for not falling all over you, and losing my dignity because I want to date you. 

As a woman in the dating world — or looking for love — I am tired of feeling as if I have to be submissive to someone else. Yes, I can be too much. Sometimes, it can be too much to handle. However, if a guy is turned off by a strong, smart mouthed woman, who knows what she wants, then he is not the guy I want to date.

Plain and simple.


Anxiety and Booze: Why I Won’t Meet You For Drinks

I am 22 years old, a college graduate, and I’ve never been drunk or set foot in a bar. At parties, instead of drinking the punch, my red solo cups are filled with ginger ale or water. And no, it’s not because I am super religious or super innocent. It’s not that I am judgmental or a prude. It’s because I have anxiety.

Anxiety and booze don’t mix. I know many people who have anxiety or depression and have used drugs or alcohol as a crutch to get through their rough time. According to an article from Healthline, anxiety can worsen symptoms, and those who have anxiety can develop a dependence on it.

I was diagnosed with anxiety officially a year and a half ago – however, I’ve been in therapy for the effects of chronic stress and anxiety for almost two years. And since then, I haven’t touched a drink.

It wasn’t much of a loss, because I wasn’t much of a drinker to begin with. However, when you’re the only one of your friends not getting a beer with dinner, why I don’t go out for drinks with the cute guy I matched with on Tinder, or the only one at the party who doesn’t take anything from the punchbowl, it can cause some to wonder why isn’t Natalie having a cocktail like the rest of us?

Not drinking was a choice that I had to make, and I believe that it was the right one for me to make. Anxiety has impacted my life in so many different ways, and this is one of them.
However, often with choices that are abnormal, there are people that do not respect them. I have had people say to me it’s only one drink, what’s the big deal? It’s important to me, and it’s my decision. Just like I respect that you are spending all of your time and money at the bar. Plus, by me not drinking, I can be your designated driver.

I don’t know if I will ever get a chance to drink more than the Seagrams I had right before being diagnosed with anxiety, and the champagne glass I shared with my ex-boyfriend to celebrate my 22nd birthday. Some days, I think I feel like I am ready to have a drink. Other days, I still feel like I am not there yet. One day, I will get there.


Learning to Forgive

In my 22 years on this planet, I’ve had my share of hurt feelings and wrongdoings — broken hearts caused by my few exboyfriends, friends who thought it was okay to talk behind my back, and so on. You know, all of the drama that you would see on a reality show.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of the concept of forgiving those who have hurt me, and the proper way to express hurt feelings. When we were little, forgiveness was similar to slapping a Band-aid on a cut. You would hurt someone’s feelings, and an ‘I’m sorry’ would be the instant way to heal the damage. Now that I am well past my playground days, forgiveness, like everything else that comes with adulthood, has an extra layer of complication to it.

But, why is that? Why is it so hard to forgive?

Let me just say this — forgiveness is hard! How do you forgive your ex for cheating on you and breaking your heart when you still are licking your wounds? How do you forgive your friend for saying awful things about you behind your back, when you still aren’t speaking to your friend as a result? It’s not easy, and it’s okay to express that you are hurt.

But, eventually, you’ve got to move on. Enter, forgiveness. Otherwise, you’ll be holding onto the awful thing that happened to you for dear life, and carry it with you everywhere you go. My, that’s a lot of baggage.

I know forgiveness is challenging. I struggle with it, but I try to forgive those who hurt me, because I don’t want it to define me. I don’t want to be known as someone who is bitter about something, I want to be positive about what happened. And, of course, move on from it a stronger being.

So, the take home message here? Forgive. Forgive those who said they were sorry. Forgive those who didn’t. Forgive not for them, but for you. It’s not easy to do that, especially with relationships that ended abruptly. However, it can be done.

At the end of the day, forgiveness is the separation between the past and the present. By forgiving, you are allowing yourself to move forward. So, forgive for goodness’ sakes!


Lent Update 2 — Cheat Day

Sixteen days in, and I cracked. Okay, well cracked is a bit harsh. So, let’s call it a cheat day. With that being said, I had a good reason. I swear!

Let me paint the scene for you. Last Friday, after a week of bed rest, drinking a terrible concoction (a.k.a. Pedia Lyte), and terrible stomach illnesses, I felt like I was due to treat myself. Since I had been confined to my bed for the past week, I tore through some of books just because I didn’t have anything else to do, and I’m not a huge fan of Netflix. Furthermore, when I was finally able to move around a bit, I began to clean out my bookshelves, and ended up getting rid of nine books to bring to the local bookstore to get some extra trade cash. Not bad, huh?

On the way there, I got to thinking. I knew that I had given up purchasing books for Lent. But, given the circumstances, I felt that I could afford to get just one book. After all, I deserved to treat myself. After all, if you can eat meat on Saint Patrick’s Day, I can surely buy one book. Right?

After trading in my books (I got over $25 in store credit — yay!), I noticed that there were some signs advertising a sale. I then asked the owner about it, who said that if there was a duplicate of the book on the shelf, then it would be an extra 35 percent off. That, on top of store credit (the credit uses 50 percent off of the books), it seemed like a good deal.

$6.60 for all of these? What a deal! 

Now, you know how I said that I would only get one book? I ended up getting three — Career of Evil by Robert Gailbreth, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Fairest by Marissa Meyer. The price for those books without the discounts? Well over $30. However, I only paid $6.60.

Not bad, huh?

I thought so.

After I got home, uplifted by my purchases, I talked to one of my friends. Their parents were ministers, and they said that it was okay to have whatever you gave up for Lent on Sundays, and it wouldn’t matter, since it was a mini-Easter. However, instead of doing that on a Sunday (because let’s face it, I’ll be going to Barnes and Noble nearly every Sunday. Not really effective), I would allow myself one cheat day before Easter. By doing that, I felt okay in my little shopping spree.

Now that I have a few more books, it’s safe to say that I won’t be stepping foot into a bookstore until Easter.

Finally, here’s an update of the books I’ve been reading since Lent.

Read: Queen of Shadows, Charlotte’s Web, and the Bermudez Triangle 

Currently readingCareer of Evil

Up next: I’m not sure yet. Either Beautiful Creatures, Wuthering Heights, or Audrey Wait!




6 Things Every Guy Dating a Career Oriented Girl Should Know

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and a writer. To reach that goal, I held roles at publications, nonprofits, and websites. Add in classes, a job to pay the bills, and it’s safe to say that I was a pretty busy lady.

via Pinterest

Because of that, maintaining a social life and a relationship can be a bit exhausting, and was a priority that often fell to the bottom of the list. Before I continue, I would like to say that in some of my relationships, I received endless support in what I wanted to do with my career. Other times, usually in guys I met online or have dated once or twice, they would simply complain I never made enough time to hang out with them or didn’t answer their text timely enough.

Uhm, excuse me?

Therefore, I decided to write this list as a reminder of guys who will either date me, or another career oriented girl.

  1. Sometimes, I am just too tired for date night. Friday nights are usually date nights. However, after a long week at the office, the only thing that I want to do is go home and watch 90’s sitcoms on Netflix. It’s not because I don’t want to hang out, it’s just I’m exhausted. Therefore, please don’t take offense when I say that I am too exhausted to go out on the town with you.
  2. I won’t respond to messages right away. Whether it’s because I have a day full of meetings, trying to get things done, or just engrossed in my work, I’m not paying attention to my phone 24/7. I get it that it can be frustrating when you’re trying to make plans with me and I’m not answering. However, please understand that I’m not ignoring you – I just have to get my work done. And, I will answer. Eventually. Just be patient.
  3. I might have to work late – causing me to have to cancel plans last minute. Sometimes, I’m on deadline so I’ll need to stay at the office much later to get things done. As a result, I may have to cancel or reschedule or movie date. Try to understand that I don’t want to cancel, but I genuinely need to be at work.
  4. You’ll be asked to read some of my stories – and give your honest opinion. This one applies to my fellow journalists out there. Whenever I write a piece for my blog, or an article, chances are I’m going to ask you to read it. Just do it, and tell me what you think.
  5. Sometimes, I’m going to need pep talks. Work has good days and bad ones. On the bad ones, be that extra shoulder of support and be encouraging. It will go a long way.
  6. I’m extremely passionate about my career and will talk about it to anyone who will listen. While the work sometimes is stressful, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Therefore, my passion for writing is greater than anything else I have in my life. On dates it’s something that I talk about constantly – and that’s okay. Just listen attentively, and eventually, I’ll shut up.
positive thinking

Good Vibes?

I am a huge believer in the Evil Eye, Hamsas and good fortune. I wear some version of the evil eye to ward off some evil or ill wishes that may be floating around. I believe in the concept of a lucky jade green necklace, thinking that is the reason why that good thing happened to me on that particular day.

Due to my beliefs in the evil eye, I believe there are some people out there that do not wish me luck — despite their constant assurance that they are happy for me. Therefore, I do not post certain things about my life on social media, such as whether or not I am in a relationship, or if I were to get a new job or car.

When I was in a relationship last summer, I discussed this with my therapist. She began to explore the concept of the Evil Eye with me, and even going onto say while there is a lot of bad vibes out there, it is up to me to counter them with good ones.

Lately, I’ve begun to think about all of the kinds of vibes that are floating around out there. As a millennial, it is my instinct to share – on social media, and by texting. Whenever something good happens, I want to post it on my Facebook. Not for the likes (although I do in fact admit that the feedback is something I gain from doing that), but because I want to say I did something I am proud of. For me. Let’s face it, I deserve to feel proud of myself.

For example, when I first started my job, I posted a status about it. When my mother found out, she said that there are people out there who, like I mentioned earlier, might want me to be successful – at least on the surface.

Underneath all of the likes, it’s safe to say that there are people who do not wish you well. There are people who are jealous of what you may have – jobs, a great boyfriend, or great friends. They may be friends who may not be having such a great time in their life, or people from high school who just want to talk about you.

With that being said, we have a few options — don’t post anything ever, get rid of the friends who don’t wish you well, or counter it with good vibes.

I think I’d go with the latter.

At the end of the day, there are people who are going to be jealous of you sometimes. That is only human nature. Just because there may be someone who wishes us a thumbs down, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t post it. It means that you have to instead put out all of the positive vibes possible.

And how do you do that?

You do that by being positive, by wishing your friends well (and meaning it), and by making peace with the fact that while today it is not your day, your friend deserves to be happy. Just like you.

So, post that status. Post that selfie with your boyfriend. And remember, while you have no control over whether or not someone wishes you will, you do have control over what you wish towards them.

And that is ten times better.


Lent Petition Update 1

A few weeks ago, I posted about my religious beliefs. After writing that post, I got to thinking about what I can do to give up to celebrate Lent. Should I give up something? Should I do something in terms of celebrating? 

I began to contemplate about what to give up — should I give up my runs to Dunkin every morning? Or, should I give up cookies?

Both of those options sounded like I was setting myself up for failure.

Then, it came to me.

Why don’t I try to give up buying books?

The thought occurred to me on the evening on Ash Wednesday, when I was finishing up a book and starting another. I noticed that there were over 10 books that I haven’t read in my library, but I was still buying more and more.

Therefore, to save money and to actually read those books, I decided to give up buying more books for Lent.

Two weeks in, and it’s safe to say that it’s working. I’ve completed the Bermudez Triangle  and am halfway completed with Queen of Shadows (Throne and Glass #4). Up next is Wuthering Heights, The 5th Wave, and Emma. However, I still have another month until Easter, so hopefully I won’t run out or cave. But, we’ll see.

To help me stick with it, I decided to update how my petition is going on my blog every so often. So, stay tuned for more next week as I try to abstain from buying books . . .



Losing My Religion

Today marks the first day of Lent. For a Catholic, this means having something ready to be given up for 40 days, pizza for dinner tonight and every Friday until Easter, and making sure you get your ashes. For those of you who may not know, I grew up Catholic, and still consider myself to be one for the most part. Growing up Catholic meant going to CCD once a week, having grandma lecture you about the things you’re doing wrong, and not really being able to explore that there is a faith other than the religion.
However, some of you may know that I have two really awesome people in my life (my best friend’s parents) that are Lutheran pastors, as well as I also hang out with a lot of people who are studying to become pastors at the Yale Divinity School. Because of this, I sometimes hang out at the Lutheran church or attend a Lutheran service – much to the dismay of my Italian grandmother, who luckily will never figure out how the blogosphere works to read this.

Now, why am I telling you all this?
Well, by hanging out with that group combined with my upbringing, I realized some stuff.

I realized religion is something that shouldn’t be forced upon your throat the way it is in Catholic school. Religion is something that should be done willingly. In CCD, there was a lot of ‘nos’ and things classified as things you can not even dream about doing – i.e. sex before marriage, being gay, divorce, meat on Fridays, so on and so forth.

What really drew me in from the Lutheran church was how welcoming they were, and happy to be where they were. There was no mention of the word ‘no’ – in fact, they often would talk about faith issues, as well as ones of social justice. There was no mention of the rules – just the simple discussion of this God and how God does awesome stuff.

As I get older, I constantly think about faith. I sometimes doubt God, as I think many of us do. My relationship with religion is that I consider myself to be Christian, a mixture of Lutheran and Catholic. I plan to get married, when the time is right in a church, preferably by one of my pastor friends with my organist friend playing in the background. I plan to teach my children that there is a God out there who loves them. However, I am not sure which church will be the one I bring them to. I want to teach them the traditions my grandparents taught me, as I will never be able to forget the look of pride on my grandmother’s face when I got confirmed. But, at the same time, I also want them to be able to have a religion that was as welcoming as I felt when I went to the Lutheran church.
As Lent approaches, I will be eating pizza today and thinking about the many blessings I have. Religion is something that is messy, and has a crazy connotation especially nowadays. However, I believe that to get to a point of peace, all religions should think less of the nos, and more of the community and conversation . . .
. . . Just like the Lutherans do.