If I Lived in Ottawa Again…

As I drove into Ottawa recently, tears sprung. I really do love this town. I had the best job I’ve ever had while living there, I enjoyed my friends, and it’s where my yoga blossomed. Yet, I was lonely a lot of the time because I was too scared to do anything alone. If I lived in O-town again, I would:

  • sit in the park and read books
  • go to the farmers’ market every Saturday
  • walk to yoga every week
  • join an activity or a sport
  • try new restaurants by myself
  • walk around the plentiful parks
  • go to the movies alone
  • shop alone (and I don’t mean to Walmart on Saturday night for groceries)
  • and by golly I’d go to a laundromat

My life when I lived there was my job (which, did I mention I loved?) and my VCR. Thanks to my parents, other family, and friend visits, I actually left my comfort zone. Yes, I had friends that lived in Ottawa, but they were all married and/or had a family. We did things together, but not often enough. I was too scared to “bother them,” though I’m sure they would’ve welcomed me into their family lives more than they already did.

It’s crazy to think that 7 years after leaving this town, I do just about anything anywhere by myself. Where was this tenacious, give no effs self then? I hesitate to call these regrets because I wasn’t ready to be that person. But if I could do it all over again, I’d be more adventurous, even if it was as simple as buying a hot chocolate at Jeremiah Joe’s and reading a book while solo. Thanks, Ottawa, for always having a special place in my heart xoxo

Sightseeing and Sweets in Toronto

On a recent trip to Canada, my parents and I stopped in Toronto. As a big city girl already, it felt like I was back in sweet home Chicago. With a limited timeframe to spend exploring – basically 12 hours – we squeezed in the important stuff: good food with a splash of sightseeing!

The Food – Ok, Really, the Sweets

Maman

When I was in NYC last month, I discovered Maman and fell in love. They know how to do pastries and decorating right.

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Are you there, Fate? It’s me, Ashley.

As a non-religious, but spiritual [insert yogi-minded] person, the idea of fate is a tricky one. I know that there is no god up in the air manipulating my marionette strings to do and say certain things. I don’t believe that my life’s plan was already written before I was born. But, this idea of fate – yes the idea of fate, not the pre-determined by god, supernatural definition of fate – has always been very striking to me.

I truly believe that things happen for a reason. Not because they were “destined to” or because someone wrote it in the “book of Ashley”, but because life is mysterious. Life works its way so that when one event happens it changes the course of future events. Or maybe because an event happened, you’ve learned this grand (or small) life lesson that’ll inform how you lead the rest of your life.

When I was in Toronto recently a guy I knew in college posted online that he was also visiting Toronto. I wrote, “I’m here, too! Enjoy!” Immediately, he messaged me: let’s meet up! I was with my parents and figured that leaving the house at 10pm to meet up with a bachelor party wasn’t the best idea. He lives in Chicago, though, so I suggested we meet up when we both returned stateside. We made plans for the following week, and continued to talk throughout the whole weekend.

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Bruised and Broken up, but not Broken

I woke up on a recent Friday morning inexplicably happy. A smile was permanently on my face from the time the alarm buzzed to the time I got home. I was terribly nice to every person who called me at work. I ended every email with a: Have a great weekend!

It’s hard to believe that this happiest of happy days was only 1 week after the boy-of-nearly-7-months and I had broken up. I was, in fact, happy that the relationship was over. The boy-of-nearly-7-months and I weren’t perfect matches. We tried fitting ourselves together like two mismatched puzzle pieces for the last 5 months of the relationship and it consistently ended up with a lopsided puzzle. I miss my partner in crime, but I don’t really miss the boy-of-nearly-7-months (though I do miss his dog a whole lot).

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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.

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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.