Life Lessons from an Airbnb Host

After a work training in New York, a colleague and I stayed for a quick 24 hours in NYC. I thought it would be fun, and potentially cheaper, to stay in an Airbnb so I chose one in Tribeca. The cost was fairly expensive for 1 night, but the description made it sound promising and the location was on-point. When we arrived, the host was eclectic and a little over the top, but nice enough. We weren’t at the place very long, but neither my colleague nor I were particularly impressed and stuck mostly to ourselves when we were in the loft. I don’t remember acting rude or grumpy, but apparently I’d made that impression on our funky little host:

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When I received this feedback, I was taken aback. Yes, I can be short/curt and not super open to new people, especially when the time investment is so short. I was exhausted from a week of intense full-on training. But was I rude? Was I grumpy? Was I brusque (according to Merriam-Webster: blunt in manner or speech often to the point of ungracious harshness)? I honestly don’t think so, but I came across that way to Reno.

Shortly after receiving this email, a friend randomly walked into the cafe where I was sitting. I was happy to see her, of course, but Reno’s feedback flashed bright lights in my brain: BE EXTRA SMILEY NOW. ACT HAPPY. DON’T BE GRUMPY…AT ALL.

This isn’t the first time I’ve received feedback about my lack of enthusiasm, bitchiness, or grumpiness. My mom’s been telling me to perk up & be more positive for as long as I can remember. I left college without a single friend (there are a few girls I like and get along with, but we aren’t close), and distinctly remember setting myself apart as soon as friendships fell apart. A date to a high school dance told me once that I was a bitch, but “he liked that about me.”

I can’t make myself happier, more smiley, or more approachable all the time. This introverted-in-social-situations, standoffish, overtly honest, somewhat sullen nature is who I am. I know that I will continuously and for the rest of my life have to work on my own happiness. I’ve written multiple blog posts about finding happiness and, I promise you, I do want to be happier, but it’s hard when this is who I am and who I have been. I can’t just say BE HAPPY and actually be happy.

So where do I go from here?

Step 1: Ignore Reno’s comments. She doesn’t know me. I will never see her again. Let it slide off my back.

Step 2: Own it. This is me. I can’t change who I am at my core. You don’t have to like me, but if you want to be around me, you do have to accept me for who I am.

Step 3: Revel in the days where I wake up naturally happy. It’s funny because a week after the last guy I was dating and I broke up, I woke up inexplicably happy. Maybe it was the prospect of being single (yet again) or the sunny day or hormones, but I was just smiling all day. I wish, more than anything right now in my life, that that feeling is how I always felt, but it isn’t. I don’t wake up grumpy, typically, but I do wake up neutral 99% of the time and stay that way most of the day.

Step 4: Continue to do the activities and see the people that make me happy. With summer peeking it’s sunny little head out, there is a plethora of fun stuff going on. Have I told you yet to download the My Chi Parks app?? It’s my favoritest app in the whole word. You will find me sitting (or dancing!) at the parks most of this summer, so hit me up if you want to hang out on a blanket or don your salsa shoes.

Restaurant for Two: Michael Jordan’s Steak House

Did you know that May is National Burger Month? Michael Jordan’s Steak House in River North is celebrating! With 31 different burgers – 1 for each day of the month – you can try at least a few more burgers before month’s end.

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While the 3 burgers I ate have already passed their “special day”, you’re lucky enough that they are staple menu items that’ll be featured on a rotating basis. No matter when you go or what burger you order, the meat patty will be juicy and cooked with just the right amount of pink. You’ll see mini burgers in my pics since I was here for a review, but you’ll get the real deal when you order.

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Bakery Walk: Lower Manhattan

My colleague and I were only in NYC for 24 hours after a training in upstate, so I reached out to my women’s travel Facebook groups (feel free to ask me and I’ll invite you to the groups) and requested suggestions for bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. These ladies showed up! With so many awesome suggestions, we decided to do a Bakery Walk – Lower Manhattan style.

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The streets of New York City are lined with restaurants and cafes that I think you could go to a new place every day for the rest of your life and never repeat. I was happy to have received so many suggestions so our choices could be narrowed, though I’m sure that if we’d just seen Once Upon a Tart while walking past, we would’ve stopped in no matter what. As you can see by the pictures, this place is adorable. Our barista was lovely and that chocolate chip cookie was snarfed in 2.5 seconds.

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My Dream: Hygge

From a young age I assumed my life would go the traditional route: meet a man, fall in deep, passionate love, get married, buy a house with a picket fence and a blooming garden, have babies, live happily ever after. When my life didn’t exactly work out that way, I started dreaming more broadly.

For starters, I wanted to move to Asia. I’d been there in college and had *that* feeling when I was traveling around China; I knew I’d live there again. So, I did it. I researched, I day-dreamed – a lot – and moved to Hong Kong.

Then when I was in Hong Kong and my “get married and have a baby” dream wasn’t coming any closer to fruition, I dreamed up a new dream: at the age of 35 if I was no closer to having a family, I would move abroad again. I’d always been interested in joining the Peace Corps, I wanted to learn Spanish, I’d like to see more of South America, etc. The possibilities were endless.

Recently, though, that “move abroad again” dream faded. I like living in Chicago. I love my job. I love my new yoga gig. My family is close. My life is here and I’m not ready to leave – even if 35 is 1.5 years away. As the “move abroad again” dream receded, a new dream formed:

Own a tea shop & yoga studio

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Let Go and Let God

“Let Go and Let God”

It’s certainly not an expression you’d ever hear me say, let alone believe, yet when a friend wrote about it in a recent blog post, it stuck with me. Not because I believe that God is doing anything for me, but because sometimes I really do need to let go and let life happen as it happens.

The guy I’m dating may soon be the guy I dated. We had “the talk” last night and agreed to meet up this weekend to discuss where we see our relationship going. I don’t have high hopes. For the last 24 hours, I’ve been nervously chewing over every little thing about him, about us, about me, about my future, about…you get the point. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t do anything other than think about the fact that I may be single very soon and if that’s something I actually want (because, admittedly, it might be something that I want even though it terrifies me).

My brain hurts. My heart hurts. My eyeballs hurt. And, while I can’t physically eat a giant cupcake or guzzle a glass of wine right now, I can Let Go and Let God or more appropriately for me – let go. I don’t have to decide today, tomorrow, or next week who I’m going to marry, if I should have a baby by myself, if I should adopt a kid, or if I should move to Seattle to start fresh. Instead, today, tomorrow, and next week, I need to take part in some self-love in order to let go.

Girl Brain 2.0

In the past seven years that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve talked at length about dating, including touching on the infamous and rarely discussed amongst couples: “Girl Brain.”

Girl Brain is the ever-present reason why girls act the way they do around boys.

It’s been so long since I’ve been in a “real relationship” that I associated Girl Brain only to the beginnings of a relationship aka the dating stage. Yet, here I sit 6 1/2 months into a relationship – the second longest I’ve ever dated someone IN MY LIFE (feel free to applaud now) – and I’m here to tell you that Girl Brain does exist while in a relationship, too.

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Taking Chicago by storm…one date, one yoga class, one salsa lesson, one blog post, one trip, one drink, one meal, one new friendship at a time.