Category Archives: How To

Three things we can learn from Neo’s Jump

Yes, I know the Matrix came out like 10+  years ago, but for some reason my brain remembered that scene in the movie where Morpheus is teaching Neo how to “free his mind” and if he can accomplish this, he should be able to jump/fly 500 feet to the next building. This jump, in my opinion, is the perfect allegory for life. Here are the 3 things we can learn:

1) You have to take that first leap. That other building is your goal. Your hopes and dreams. You can stay on the current building that you’re on and not go anywhere. That’s your choice. It’s safe. It’s comfortable, and life is A-Ok. But you know that if you can somehow jump and make it to the other building, your life would be what it was supposed to be and you would feel the way you were meant to, alive. No parents are there to push you off the nest this time. This is your decision. You have to be willing to take the plunge.

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How to Come Up with the Perfect Maid of Honor Speech

“Love is patient, love is kind, love endures forever…” Oh wait, this is a blog post on the perfect speech not the worst one. If you want your speech to be terrible, by all means recite 1 Cor 13:4. Really go ahead. No one in the world has heard love is patient, love is kind and that love endures forever. It will be BRAND NEW INFORMATION. How about instead, I  help you come up with great topics for your speech as well as keep it fresh, original, and real. With any successful speech, you want to be sure that you can immediately capture your audience’s attention. You don’t want to be too short, because some family members might give you the stink eye and think you and their daughter/niece/cousin weren’t as close as they thought. You don’t want to be too long in your speech, because some family members will give you the stink eye for taking them further away from cake time. The perfect combination? A speech that isn’t “Clearly I didn’t take the time to prepare for this so I will say something boring and generic and give a toast to the bride and groom in 45 seconds” to something like “And then in 3rd grade, she totally peed in her pants and our teacher, Mr. Smith pulled aside and gave this really long lecture about how you shouldn’t drink too much Kool Aid before a field trip, and in 4th grade….” Prepare for the speech but don’t be too excessive with it. I would say to keep your speech at around 2-3 minutes. Might not seem like a long time, but if you have the right content, that will be plenty. So how can you come up with the perfect speech? The speech can be centered around a couple topics, depending on how entertaining it is. Here are my suggestions:

maid-of-honor1) Think of the time you first met your bride. Was it memorable? Can you remember the details? If it is a humorous and entertaining story, then there you go. You don’t even have to keep reading the other suggestions. If you do want to use how you first met in your speech, then remember to show and not tell. Use words that will make your audience feel like they are right there with you, seeing the whole scene unfold through your eyes. Allow your bride to relive the scene in her head and as a result bring a huge smile to her face. Make sure this doesn’t take up your entire speech either. Use the first minute and a half for the story, and the rest about the bride and groom, and how happy you are for them and so on. If there is something that was said by the bride in the past that can be used in the present, then use it! You can say “Sara told me 4 years ago that she would never date a guy without a good head of hair, and today has fulfilled that promise. I wish you both all the happiness in the world. May you always listen to each other, love each other, care for one another, and most importantly, keep Mens Rogaine in the bathroom drawers.” (Ok, this isn’t my best work but you get the picture).

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5 Ways Girls Can be Safe While Jogging this Summer

1) Be UGLY.

I really don’t understand why girls think they need to look cute/sexy when working out or ESPECIALLY if they go out running. Do they like seeing nasty guys size them up as they jog by? Do they realize that they aren’t noticing how cute your nike shorts are or how nice your ponytail looks? No, they are thinking the most disgusting stuff possible. So do what I do. Be butt ugly. Seriously. I wear the baggiest shirt possible, knee-length jogging pants, 5 year old shoes, and I really just don’t give a damn. It’s quite nice actually. I really don’t worry about how “cute” I look, because I don’t want any guy to notice me when I go out running. Call it paranoia or watching too many Law and Order SVU episodes, but I really do my best to not call attention. Ladies, you are under constant pressure to look your nicest, either at work or school, etc., so why not just cast all your fears aside and know that for a couple hours its ok for the world to not see you at your best? Take out your contacts when you get home from work and put your glasses on. Put your hair in a ugly bun so it resembles a large circled turd on top of your head. Wear a baggy comfortable shirt and splurge for a good sportsbra so that the ladies doesn’t bounce all over the place (it hurts less too…WIN WIN).

2) Give the LOD.

The LOD is the look of death. I give it quite often to people who piss me off while driving, and occasionally to my co-workers and husband. Most of the time it is a fake LOD, but ladies, when you are out running, it’s time to get your bitch on. Have a Sasha Fierce look on your face that tells everyone that you are not to be messed with. You know how sometimes you worry that you look mad even when you are not? Not now. Look as mad as you want. Squint your eyes, furrow your eyebrows and if looks could kill, everyone would fall dead when you run past them. If  women or children are coming into view, quickly break free from the LOD, give a smile and cheery “Hello!” then as soon as they are out of sight release the LOD back onto the world.

3) Feel like a BADASS.

woman-joggingThere are plenty of times during the day when we doubt ourselves. Am I cute enough? Why did I say that? Does my boss think I’m dumb? Did he just hear me fart? Jogging is not that time. I don’t care how much you can’t stand yourself, it’s time to be that confident girl you always wanted to be. It might be a fake confidence, but it’s still confidence. Basically, I don’t want you to look weak or “easy” when you go out running. Along with giving men the LOD, I want you to feel confident about yourself. If you need help releasing the badass that I know is in you, I have some advice. First, listen to a song that totally pumps you up and makes you want to run faster. I recommend listening to “MF” by Awolnation. Yes, the MF stands for exactly what you think it stands for. The beginning of the song is the singer just singing “What what what what?” To look very crazy and scary, I recommend you lip sing this as you run by people. You ask them what. At the end of the song, there is an audience that claps, as if praising you for being such a badass. This is no time for Mrs. nice girl. You are no longer a student struggling to pass your classes. You aren’t trying to please your boss. You are no longer a mom trying to carry all the groceries into the house and get dinner started. You are a MF that sends this message: “I will kill you bitch.”

4) Be AWARE.

If you have ever watched the news or Taken or Law and Order: SVU, then you know that the world we live is not a trustworthy place. There are some great people out there, sure. Maybe you could meet your true love while out jogging one day. Maybe you should listen to your momma when she tells you to always look your best cause you never know who you might meet or run into. Maybe. And if you think that is true for your future, then look as cute as you want, but you still need to be safe. Don’t look any man in the eye. Run in places where you know a lot of people will be. If there is a fork in the road where one street is a shortcut but has less people and the other one is longer but has more people, then take the latter. It’s more of a workout and you will be more safe with people present. If you have a trail near your house that you MUST run on, get a workout buddy. Run in the daylight. BE SMART.

5) Carry a WEAPON.

Whether it is mase, a tazer gun or a sharp key, as long as it does some damage, take it with you. You may think that I am being way too paranoid, but I look at it as being more safe than sorry. Shit happens people. It does no harm to be as prepared as possible. If you want to be really safe, text or call someone, like a family member or friend and let them know you are going out for a walk or jog. Even if their response text is “….” who cares. At least when the police ask them if they know where you went, they could tell them and help with the case (*knocks on wood*). To be REALLY REALLY safe, you can carry a gun with you. Ladies, our boobs aren’t there to just look awesome and give food to our babies, they also serve as excellent storage. As long as it doesn’t harm you when you jog, hide it there. (You can also fit your iPhone perfectly). Can you imagine the look on the perp’s face when you reach into your bra and pull out mase or a gun? PRICELESS.

I hope you will keep these tips in mind should you decide to go out running this summer. I would prefer if if you did Taebo at home or went to the gym, but even I sometimes want to go out and be in nature. Also, use it as an excuse to be really FREE. Be confident. Don’t look your best. Be one scary badass MF. Show that pimple on your forehead with pride.

Happy Jogging!


“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere” – 3 Things We Learn from Belle

If you know me, you know that I love stories. I love watching it in movies, reading about them in great books, and writing my own. I grew up writing stories and reading tons of books, really thinking that one day some epic adventure and romance would happen to me. I don’t really know the specifics of exactly how this would take place, I just knew it would happen and it would be awesome. Maybe one day I would be kidnapped and one of my captors would secretly be working for the CIA and risked his cover so that he could keep me safe. Naturally, he would be drop dead gorgeous and end up falling madly in love with me. There would be some obstacles in the way, of course, and we would be in lots of danger, but the injuries would be mild and everything would work out perfectly in the end.

When my mom told me that she met my dad in college, I remember thinking, college? Boooooring! That won’t happen to me. No, I will probably be out camping one day and sprain my ankle, some attractive man will save me and carry me for miles (without struggling), then we would have to spend the next week or so fighting mountain lions and bears, encounter a secret forest gang, and jump off into a waterfall. Gorgeous man and I will probably not like each other at first, might banter with each other a bit, then eventually, through all our adventures, we would begin to fall in love. And where did this all come from? This kind of plot could be seen in pretty much every Christian romance novel I read as a kid. Books are to blame for my fantasies! And Disney movies! Why do we encourage reading so much? Look what it does to you! Especially for women. It makes you think that it is completely possible for you to live out this epic romance. Maybe not all women think that. I probably knew in the back of my head that this was probably never going to happen, but I think the desire for it never went away. I don’t think any woman stops wanting to be swept off their feet and involved in some kind of adventure where your heart feels like its going to explode, but in a good I’M ALIVE kind of way. I met my husband in college. No, he didn’t have to challenge another man to a duel to date me (unfortunately). He pretty much won me over, we dated and blah blah blah. Where is my story? God, knowing how I am a huge fan of stories, why couldn’t he give me this desire? He could have made it happen. Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for all the blessings He did give me. I am very grateful for my husband and feel very blessed that we are together. I just wish it could have been done in a more…Natalie type way. You know? If you read my fairy tale version of how Alexander and I met, you will see the typical Disney-like story all of us girls secretly crave. Even if I didn’t get my perfect epic romance adventure of a lifetime story with Alexander, I believe that there is still hope for you (maybe not a crazy fantasy like mine, but maybe something close). Let’s see what we can learn about finding adventure in the great wide somewhere from one of my favorite Disney characters, Belle:

belle_beauty_and_the_beast1) “Adventure” is not always transparent, and never easy. When Belle gave up her life to be imprisoned with a nasty-ass beast, I don’t think she knew this was going to be the adventure she had read in her books. All she could see was living in a castle with just one scary beast and creepy talking furniture. She gave up her life of going into town every day, feeding the chickens, and rejecting a handsome man everyday. And why? So her father wouldn’t have to live in a castle. She could have said no and let her old man die in there, but Belle had a kind and loving heart. She sacrificed her own comfort and life for her father, and was rewarded for it in the end. How many times have you said no to something because it required you to sacrifice some comfort? If we can learn anything from books and Disney movies, it’s that great epic romance never comes easy. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty, sacrifice some comfort, and see where it takes you.

2) Don’t settle. Belle could have lived a nice life with Gaston, sure. He could provide for her, hunt for her, give her some good-looking children. She would have everything she needed, but she would have to put up with his unbearable arrogance and conceit. Even though he was handsome and offered her everything that other women would have swooned over, Belle was like, “Screw that! I’m going to live with my Papa until the day I die rather than marry you!”

3) Your True Love May not be A Looker, at First. The Beast is ugly. Let’s just get that out of the way. Once Belle spent time with him and gave him a chance, she could see his true character. That might be the same for you. Your prince charming may not look like the guy you had dreamed about, but giving him a chance and seeing his great personality could transform him into the prince in the end,( i.e., he could become attractive to you.) Lucky for Belle, he actually did transform completely. You might not be so lucky.

I hope you keep these things in mind and hopefully one day, you can share with me the adventure you and your now spouse have shared. Although the story of how Xander and I met is boring, I’m not going to let that stop us from living a life with adventures. The books I read never prepared me for marriage. They actually always ended when you knew they were going to be together forever. And what did this subconsciously teach me? That once you get married, that’s it. Your life ends. The romance is done, the chase and excitement…done. Finito. Now all that’s left is living with each other every day and trying to make a living and keep your house clean. Well, I refuse. If I ever start craving that epic romance, I can A) always write about it in books, or B) actually try to live it out with my husband. But I need to take the same advice I just gave you. Adventure is never easy. You have to plan to go somewhere, save money and do it. Let us both keep these lessons from Belle in mind and see where the adventure might take us!

What Makes You Come Alive?

If you read my afterlife blog post, you’re probably not surprised that I want to keep talking about this whole “coming alive” thing. I honestly, in the depths of my heart, think that this is something extremely important and needs to be discussed. I want every single one of you to understand what it is that you makes you come alive and really live it out. Because, contrary to what some might people might think about Christians, we are not called to live a boring, dull, inactive life. That is not what God intended for us at all. We are here to be a light. We are here to bring Him glory. How do we bring Him glory? By using our God-given talents. Now, I am not saying that God wants us to all be happy. He wants something much better for us. Happiness comes and goes. It’s fleeting. No, what He wants for us is joy. Inner peace. Contentedness. Take a look at the physical world around you. Some sunsets, mountains, rain forests, waterfalls– they literally take your breath away. My husband comes alive whenever he gets to be in the snow. When I look at him, I can see his eyes dance. His smile is huge and contagious. I love snowboarding with him primarily for this reason. When I see him come alive and I know my being there helped with that, I am filled with joy.

come-aliveFor me, I come alive when I write stories. Ever since I was a little girl, I had a crazy imagination and loved to write my mom and sister poems and stories. I loved diving into a novel and getting completely lost into a whole different world. I always knew that I wanted to do this too. Every time I have written either a short story or novel, and my fingers can’t stop typing because I’m completely entranced, that’s when I feel it. There in the depths of my heart and soul. That feeling that tells me that I am supposed to be doing this. Now, this talent may seem a little boring in comparison to other talents you see out there, but I don’t care. I don’t care how “boring” your talent seems to the rest of the world, if it makes you come alive, then that’s all that matters. Too often, we get completely absorbed into the routine of everyday life. We go to work, or school, (or both) come home, browse through all our social media sites, have some dinner, maybe go work out, come home, watch TV and go to sleep. By the time we know it, 2 months have passed where we have been doing the same thing, day after day. What a waste! I encourage you to right now, take out your pen, or planner or phone, and schedule it in. WILL paint something for a half hour on Thursday. WILL come up with some new fashion designs. WILL cook something new for Friday night dinner. WILL take a salsa class. You get the picture. Baby steps. (Oh, and I also love waterfalls and water slides. The picture above was me at Slide Rock. I need to do more adventurous stuff like this!)

Now for those of you who may not know what your particular talent is or not sure what makes you come fully alive, here are my questions for you: 1) what have you done where you just felt the utmost joy coming from the depths of your heart and soul? 2) what have others told you “comes naturally” to you? 3) what do you remember loving to do as a kid? If you already know what you love to do and what your talents are, that is wonderful. Now use them. For those who are still on that journey, I would encourage you to keep these questions in mind.

You might be thinking, ok, so how does my drawing ability glorify God? How will I glorify Him by playing soccer? Cooking? Building cars? I believe that God created you and knew exactly what to bless you with and what would make you come alive. So yes, as crazy as it might sound, I do believe that brings glory to God when you crochet, draw, play basketball, whatever, because of what it does to you. You are loving life. You have a joy within you. And people will notice.

Don’t let these things hinder you from coming alive and living life to the fullest:
1) Fear: my biggest enemy. Fear might prevent you from working on a project because you think a) you won’t be good enough or b) you won’t be as good as other people. I know that for myself personally, I always compare myself to others. I think, holy crap, there are so many amazing authors out there and a million books that are already written. What makes me think that I will stand out? Something my sister said really resonated with me. She told me, “Yes, there are a million other authors out there. But there is only one Natalie Bahadori Ricker.” (I love her). Remember this whenever you feel any doubts coming on.
2) Laziness. Another big enemy of mine. Get up off your butt and do something! Don’t let months go by without you picking up that microphone or paintbrush. Let’s go, time’s a wastin!
3) Life. Yes life is unbelievably busy at times. But try your hardest to make time to do what you love. Schedule it in!

PS. I write this not because I have all the answers and I am the queen at being fully alive all the time. Heck no. It is a struggle for me every day! So, I write this for you and as a reminder to me. Let’s do this together!

P.S.S I envy people who have amazing singing voices. This is a talent where you can clearly see someone come alive. Every time I see this video with Carrie Underwood singing, “How great thou art”, I am awed by her talent. It is the perfect example of what happens when you use your talent to bring glory to God.

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How NOT to Apologize

apologizeLet me first say that I am writing this post with plenty of experience on apologizing, or rather, the lack thereof. I did not realize until I was in my first serious relationship how extremely difficult it was for me to apologize. Why? Well, think about it. By apologizing, you are admitting that you are WRONG. Admitting that you are wrong is probably the hardest thing in the world to do, for anyone. It does not feel like rainbows and butterflies when you are admitting that you are wrong either because A) you were wrong B) because you don’t feel that you were really wrong but know that is the only way to make the situation better, or C) you know you were wrong but you don’t want to give that other person any satisfaction of hearing your apology. I am going to give you some examples of how not to apologize to your spouse, co-worker, family, friend, basically anyone you are in a relationship with. But since most of my apologizing has been to my husband, I will use him as an example.

Here is the scenario:

When throwing away Xander’s old pair of shoes, Xander comes home to find them missing, and naturally, starts crying.

Bad apology #1 – The Attack Apology (It looks like an apology because there is an “I’m sorry” in there, but that sorry is for the other person and how wrong they are.)

“I’m sorry that you are sad I threw away your shoes, Xander. But really, what is wrong with you? The shoes are 10 years old, you never wear them, they are ugly as sin, and you have 20 other pairs of shoes you could wear. I mean, seriously? Are you really crying about one pair of shoes right now?”

With this apology, notice how I don’t really seem sorry at all, and the only thing I am truly sorry about is how dumb my husband is being. I am saying, I’m sorry that you are sad about this, because obviously, I am right and you are wrong. Then the rest is a full-on attack. What reaction could I expect from this? Not a good one. Most likely when you use an attack apology, the other person is thinking of their own attacks they are going to say about you.

Bad apology #2 The Excuses Apology

“I do realize that I threw away your shoes and that made you upset. But Xander, I only did this because I noticed that you never wear them, like ever. I was only looking out for you and your closet, because I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it’s overfilling with all your other 100 pairs of shoes.”

It kind of sounds like an apology, doesn’t it? But notice that it’s mostly a sonnet to how right I was in my actions, and therefore completely justified. It’s the excuses apology, where you go on and on defending why you did the things that you did. But is that really what the other person who has been hurt wants to hear right now? No. They have been hurt, and you need to make sure you have properly apologized. Notice as well that no “I’m sorry” was actually said. The apology sounds like one, and it is assumed that you are sorry, but you never get to actually say it (it’s called pride my friends.)

Bad Apology # 3 “The Other People Agree with Me” Apology

“I’m sorry I threw away your shoes Xander, but honestly everyone else agrees that you own way too many pairs of shoes. They wonder how I put up with it at all. You should be glad that I’m not like other wives who constantly throw away their husband’s gross things all the time. You should consider yourself lucky to have me!”

Now, do you think Alexander really cares at this very moment how many other people agree with me? Hells to the no. All he sees is the action that I have done. I betrayed his trust. I was the one who threw away the nasty caca shoes. By me telling him how much other people agree with me, that will only fuel the fire more and make him angry or self-conscious around my friends/family.

As you could probably guess, all three of these apologies have not really worked out so well for me. I know my husband now better than ever, and I know exactly how my words can hurt. How I began mastering the science of apologies is by putting myself in his shoes and realizing how much it hurt when people treated me the same way. It was kind of like a light bulb moment for me. “Hey, this ISN’T the best way to go about this. I could be MUCH nicer. I think I’m going to work on that.”

How to apologize: The Golden Apology

“I understand that it hurt you when I threw away your shoes without asking. I am truly sorry for any pain I caused you, I know how much those shoes meant to you. I realize that I may have ruined your trust in me, which I value greatly, and I promise you I will never do this again.”

Now isn’t that the perfect apology? Easier said than done right? Could you imagine how much healthier relationships would be if everyone could apologize like that? I’m not saying that I am the queen apologizer and you should learn from how awesome I am. Not at all. It took a lot for me to realize how to apologize (to this day I still suck at it, trust me.) It definitely does not come natural to me. Maybe you grew up in a home where your parents were perfect apologizers and you learned well. Good for you. For the rest of us, it is damn hard to apologize. And not to just “apologize” but doing it the right way. Swallowing your pride, killing that burning desire to be right 100% of the time, and not going into full attack mode is not easy. But trust me, if I could slowly learn to do it, you can too! I suggest trying to put yourself into their shoes, understand their needs, and do your best to make sure that any feelings that were hurt have now been rectified.

Happy Apologizing!

P.S. No shoes were harmed or thrown away in the writing of this blog post.