Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quoteworthy: Be You

Being new and meeting so many people makes you so self-aware. It's been a long time since I've been so cautious about what words come out of my mouth and what I share with people I talk to. I vacillate between clamming up and putting up walls and yearning to share more of my personality. It's strange, being new.

As someone who has to make it a point to not live in her head all the time, this has been an interesting week. A week full of growth, though--a week full of stretching. In an effort to come out of my shell a bit and let people get to know the full, unedited Bobbi, I've gathered some quotes about being yourself.  You can't shine, after all, unless you're being real.

"I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be." --F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter." --Dr. Suess

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be someone who hates peaches." --Dita Von Teese

"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them." --Anonymous

"If you want to sing out, sing out. If you want to be free, be free. There's a million things to be. You know that there are." --Cat Stevens

Authentic (n): of undisputed origin; true; real

Genuine (n): sincerely or honestly felt or experienced

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


For a recovering control freak, I've been dealing pretty well with all the newness in my life. I'm new to the city, I'm in a new apartment, I'm new to my job, and I'm new to the subject matter that I'm writing about at my job. Not only that, but I work downtown (easy-peasy)...but will have to navigate my way down to our campus by bus, car, train, cab, you name it. It's all a lot of... new.

Which has been really great, actually, except the time that I got on a south-bound bus when I was already on the south side. And the time that I held up a line of people getting on to the northbound bus I should have been on in the first place by trying to put my CTA card in the cash slot. There have been a dozen humbling experiences like this over the past week, but also some pretty awesome wins. Aside from the bus mishap, I managed to navigate my way down to campus on my first try and make all my meetings on time. Things are starting to come together in terms of, oh, knowing how the heck to even get into work, which is basically Fort Knox with all its locked doors and maze-like cubicles. And Henley, knock on wood, is happy and secure at home, behaves for her dog walker, and hasn't touched a thing in the apartment in my absence. Highs and lows, wins and near-misses.

Which brings me to my public transportation experiences today. I spent about 4 hours of my day in transit to and from work and meetings. In those four hours I witnessed:
  • a drunk man who sat behind me on the bus, grunting and occasionally touching the ends of my hair (No, I could not get up and move, trustmetrustmetrustme, that bus was packed; and yes, I took a hot shower the moment I got home)
  • an elderly woman whispering sweetly to her husband, a Korean war vet, who clearly had dementia and was agitated, assuring him that their stop was coming up soon....for 12 stops straight
  • a sorority-girl (Phi Beta something) in her mid-20s who clicked her retainer in and out of her mouth while making disturbing faces at her self in the train window...for 12 stops straight
  • a group of 12-ish-year-old girls who were gawking and giggling at a 40-ish-year-old woman on a subway platform whose skirt was stuck up in the back of her jacket...and one 12-ish-year-old girl who kindly tapped her on the shoulder and told her
  • a woman with orange dreads and a studded leather jacket screaming at J.Crew customer service reps for 35 minutes
  • a 7-ish-year-old boy bashfully give up his seat for a 10-ish-year-old girl (do these kids not have school?!)
Chicago, something tells me you make the good great and the weird even weirder.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Last summer, I traveled downstate to a yoga retreat center outside of Gaylord to visit my friend Allison's sister, Angie. Angie was working as a cook--among other things. The center was actually a beautiful community--a retreat center, yes, but home to many who live in the surrounding woods or travel once a month to recharge.

Allison and I headed out after one of the toughest weeks I'd had in a while. I was going non-stop--no breathers, no real time for self-care. I was worn, frazzled, depleted.

Still in the thick of working out my back issues, I sat out on morning yoga, electing instead to get an extra hour of sleep in a peaceful place. I also sat out on the 'lab' part of the Organic Farming workshop we attended, volunteering to help Angie out in the kitchen. (Chopping copious amount of vegetables = therapy.)

Instead of bumming about missing out, both of which I had been doing a lot of lately, I told myself I would spend that time and energy focusing on the wonder it was that I ended up at the center on the close of a very trying week. If my mind wandered toward worry, as it is primed to do during stressful times, I chose to focus on other lucky coincidences, like the fact that Allison moved back to Marquette as another close friend left, leaving me vulnerable in his wake. Turns out the center had its own share of lucky stories: Angie met a friend downstate whose family has close ties to the center, where she ended up working years later. That friend, a calm, kind and funny girl, happened to be visiting the center that same weekend, and was full of interesting stories about the center's history.

As we sat down to one of Angie's delicious meals, one of the community members asked Allison and I, "So, do you think your sister landed in a good place?" I marveled at the phrasing of that--"landed in a good place". Landing implies some kind of take off or initiative, yes, but also, to me at least, the phrase implies some kind of randomness, some kind of luck, some kind of destiny. Also: having been there just over 30 hours, how could we tell? Was that even enough time to judge?

But it was a good place, you could tell. Kind, encouraging smiles for newcomers. Thoughtful conversation at the dinner table. Genuine expressions of gratitude for small acts, like setting the table or making flowers out of the bottom of peppers for the veggie tray.

Before that trip, I was usually good to meditate for maybe 3 minutes. One of the employees made a comment about mindfulness that got me from 3 minutes to 15 minutes. He said, "Every time your mind strays, just gently bring yourself back to your breathing, no judgement, no frustration, just bring yourself back." Very powerful words.

His words came back to me as I went about my first day of work today. In the past, being the new girl has made me feel very insecure, very anxious. My reaction is to turn inward and--you guessed it--worry. But today, instead of judgement or worry, I focused on gratitude. I wondered. I marveled. I shook a lot of hands. I took notice of kind smiles for newcomers and thoughtful lunch table conversation. And I think I landed in a good place.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I'm Having a Mary Tyler Moment

I've arrived. The ride down was at once effortless (Henley was a dream) and excruciating (what usually takes 6 hours took 9). There were tears. Saying goodbye to my dad nearly slayed me. I missed a toll. This side of Milwaukee, the weather was complete crap, making for some white-knuckle freeway driving. Eventually traffic slowed to a crawl. My phone battery was on its last limb. My back started to talk to me from sitting for so long. I scooted 1.5 miles in just under 2 hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic. 

Source - sold out but I'm going to try to track it down
I swung by my friend Kelsey's place to grab my key and fought my way through three-way intersections with flashing red lights. I was just crabby enough to get a little aggressive. Luckily there was a parking spot right in front of my apartment. I scrambled to get a few bins into the place in the dark, hopeful that I'd be able to find a complete outfit for my early-morning meeting with HR.

I put a few items away, checked the place out, locked the doors (hey, family, chill out), updated my people on my arrival and hit the sack--completely spent and irritated. 

But everything looked a little bit brighter this morning. My apartment is really nice--and big! Henley is adjusting well, despite barking at every noise, and lingering on my heels. I've relaxed a bit, and I'm looking forward to seeing friends tonight.

As I was walking around today, gathering grocery staples, opening up bank accounts, having keys made, taking care of business, I had a little Mary Tyler Moore moment. I felt grateful, happy, and satisfied. I didn't toss my hat in the air, per se, but I completely understood the sentiment.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Over the past three weeks, as I've been preparing to move, I lost not one but two dearly beloved family members. First we lost my grandpa, my dad's dad, my family's patriarch, my Papa.

We had just barely begun to grapple with the hole his death left, when, three weeks to the day later, on Papa's birthday, we lost my Auntie Vicki, my dad's sister, lover-fighter-planner-giver-truthteller-bullshitcaller so full of life, so feisty and so at the core of our family.

Here she is dancing at my cousin's wedding with the bride, Amy, and her son, DJ. This picture is her true essence...always celebrating, always loving.

I cannot believe they're gone, and as I prepare to leave tomorrow, I realize what the term bittersweet really means. The events of the last few weeks are the very reason I haven't yet moved away from home. This is what I was always fearful of: missing time with loved ones, because life moves so very fast.

But there's a part of me that's wiser now, that understands that life is always moving and passing us by, no matter your choices. We make the best decisions we can, and in the end, if we're anything like Papa and Auntie Vicki, we won't fear death, knowing that we've lived a good life. To me, led by their examples, that means taking life by the horns, working hard, fighting the good fight, loving out loud, calling out the bullshit and leaving a legacy of love and spirit. I only hope I can make them proud in this next chapter of my life.