Foram Patel

The Year of Intentions

Welcome to 2018! With a clean slate ahead of us, saying welcome to 2018 has been an interesting experience – it feels partially as if nothing has changed, but also as if so much can change in the next 12 months. As much as we make fun of the “new year, new me” cliche, I like to think that every year I’ll become better at sticking to my resolutions. Every year that I can remember, I’ve started the year with a list of things that I wanted to accomplish or become better at … and sadly enough, I didn’t really manage to make many moves in accomplishing them. So, this year, I’m trying something new – instead of resolutions, I’d like to make intentions. I think I’ll probably be better at sticking to my goals if they are my intentions, rather than resolutions that get left behind two or three months into the year, with no motivation to pick back up once forgotten. The difference with intentions is that there is no drop off point – every day is a fresh start, and all your intentions remain intentions even if forgotten for a day, or week, or even month during the year!

In 2018, I intend to….
  • live in the here and now, and worry less about the unknowns
  • recommit to creating more content for this corner of the internet I get to call my own
  • become more intentional about where and on whom I spend my energy
  • focus on me – my health, my future, and my passions
  • read more, and find time for the little things

For me, 2017 was neither particularly exciting nor disappointing – I had the opportunity to learn, explore and all in all, it was a solid year. However, 2018, I know, will hold a few milestones and also so many unknowns. For reason, I want to make the effort to live intentionally – It’s easy to live out of habit and make excuses when your resolutions and goals don’t fit into your routine, but that is why this year,  I want to do less out of habit and more out of passion and purpose. I want to be able to look back upon this year and truly think that I utilized the twelve months as best possible, and not simply have average memories. It’s fine to not feel strongly one way or another about the year, but with 365 days to make something good happen, I think it’s worth a shot at being intentional day in and day out.

So, with all the cliche’s of a new year – I leave you with a welcome note to 2018 and one simple question: what are your intentions for this new year?

 

Redefining Home

Home. I promise I won’t give you the generic dictionary definition to help you better understand where I’m going with this, why?… Well, because “home” is just too ambiguous to have just one definition.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried to summarize what Google and the dictionary tell me – home is supposed to where one lives permanently, where they are part of a family. But as hard as I have tried to make these definitions make sense with what I’m feeling, I’m realizing that I can’t summarize this four letter word into something so cut and dry. 75544_10208988263327859_7735572694036085280_n

I guess it should be, I mean it is true that for the past twenty years of my life “home” has mostly been  a quiet suburb of Chicago. Home was simply one 1,500 sq ft house, three other individuals and a large group of friends and family. With those people and city, I’ve always felt at peace, I’ve always felt belonging. I’ve never had to give a second thought to where or what home was for me – it was obvious.

Then, the unexpected happened. I graduated college and moved to a new city, where I had absolutely no family or friends but also no intention of staying permanently. When the original short trip of three months changed to a stay of unknown length… this was when I first realized I didn’t know what to call San Francisco. Was it home? I didn’t think so, at least not yet.

Looking back today, San Francisco was definitely not home to me in those first months. And I’ll be the first to tell you, I definitely didn’t call it that either. I lived like a tourist, I felt like a tourist, but the contagious energy flowing from the city into me was undeniable. I had never felt this excitement and connection to any one place before. While I acknowledged this new feeling, it took me a good four/five months before the word “home” naturally rolled off my tongue when referring to SF.

And, today, here I am sitting in my first apartment, in San Francisco, looking back at the past ten months of my life, and can undoubtedly say this place is my home, my second home.  I look out the window, to see rain outside, and buses driving by, and each and everything I see out there has some sort of connection to my life. I see the bus I take to work everyday,  I see my neighbor walking their dog, I see my friends apartment …. I see my home.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint that exact moment where San Francisco became more than just a quick pit stop in my life..  when it became home – but I don’t think there is just one moment. The experience, the people and the energy of belonging..  I think its the fusion of these tiny moments and experiences have lead me to today, where calling two completely different cities “home” happens without a second thought.

And in this, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know it was possible to call two places IMG_3254home – two entirely different types of home. For the entirety of my life, up until this point, home had simply been where my family was, but here… I have no family, like in Chicago…  but this place is my own, and it fills me with energy that I have never felt before in my life. I look around and can’t help but feel the heartache of the day that I have to say goodbye to the place and people that have shaped me and changed me. This city has made me stronger, braver and more confident. In all honestly, San Francisco has stolen my heart.

The day I stepped off that airplane, I was a tourist. But along the way this Pacific air filled my heart and ignited a new sense of belonging, a sense that I had found something new to call “my place”, and streets that were mine. I was no longer a visitor, but instead a settler. These days, I walk around the city and imagine what my life would have been if I hadn’t found my second home. My heart is fuller, my eyes are brighter and the excitement to explore this city is just as alive as the day I arrived.12274317_10208111601251855_1164754718471334885_n

I’ve learned one thing in all this, and it’s that home isn’t just the place where family is – as cliche as it sounds, it’s where the heart is. And if I’m being honest, a piece of my heart will always stay in San Francisco, long past the day I say my goodbyes.

It’s exciting to have found a place across the country that makes me feel this way, and its nice to think that years from now, this city and its sweet spots will still be here with every memory attached for me to look back upon. But till that bittersweet day comes, I’m grateful for the chance to have found a city that makes me feel so alive and with each day teaching me something new.

Here’s to adventure and the unexpected, because without those two things,  home (& I) wouldn’t be the same!

 

A Year Older, A Year Wiser

As the clocks ticks forward and the calendar marks October 11, I’ll be one year older, and perhaps a year wiser. A birthday calls for celebration and some sort of reflection on the years passed… and well, of course I couldn’t pass up on that opportunity! Though in all honesty, as this new year is upon me, it still takes me by surprise to think about what this past year has meant for me. It’s been a year of so many firsts.

Just to give you an idea, this year….

  • For the first time, I started to call a place other than Chicago, home
  • Started my first full time job
  • Signed a lease for my first apartment
  • Tried thai food… and actually liked it for the first time (LOL)
  • Learned to cook myself edible meals (obv. for the first time)
  • My dreams became a reality, and for the first time, I wouldn’t change anything about it

Obviously this is just a short list, but this year has been so different from the past. In ways unbelievable to me, even now, I’ve grown. I’ve learned, but most importantly, I’ve been challenged.

Being 1800 miles from the place that I’ve grown up calling home has been a unique experience, both with and without it’s challenges. Distance has been tough, but has helped make some of my most important relationships stronger and better, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While the last 365 days have been good to me, I’m excited to see what this new year brings. Cheers to being a year older, and wiser!

 

I’m Sticking Around

Three months ago, I took a crazy a leap of faith and hopped on a plane and moved to San Francisco, California. As many of you may already know, the past three months have been a pretty crazy journey…from realizing that I’m living my dream, to meeting Steph Curry, to completely and absolutely falling in love with this city – the last three months have not been boring.

I’ve grown in ways I wouldn’t have imagined (unfortunately not any taller…) and have made some wonderful memories! I find myself still doing touristy things, but I don’t think that will ever change… and each and everyday I find myself realizing how blessed I am to be living this life.

This journey started with the intention of being in San Francisco for a short period of time, but as fate would have it… it looks like I’m sticking around a lot longer than I thought! To say the least, I’m so excited to see what this new journey has in store for me. Probably just as crazy as it has been, and maybe even more exciting (if that’s possible)! When I first moved out here in June, I kept saying that I wouldn’t have seen moving to SF as part of my post-grad life, and this still takes me by shock on days, but here I am, and I’m taking the world by storm. I’m living my dream and I couldn’t be happier.

So, now, for all my friends who were hesitant on visiting me in SF, it’s time y’all! Come check out what this city is all about, I promise you’ll have a hard time saying goodbye!

If the past three months have taught me ONE thing it’d be to chase your dreams and take the leap of faith, no matter how scary, because when you look back twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do.

*Below are some pictures from the past two months 🙂 *

Til Next Time,

Foram

 

IMG_0824
Crazy stairs we climbed for the crazy beautiful view.
One of the coolest work projects; an event where Steph Curry was hanging out with us!
One of the coolest work projects; an event where Steph Curry was hanging out with us!
IMG_0846
One of the BEST bakeries… CRUFFINS (Croissant + Muffin) are a thing, and they are to die for.
San Francisco knows how to do brunch. Yum.
San Francisco knows how to do brunch. Yum.

Happiness.

Hap·pi·ness – The state of feeling pleasure or contentment.

It’s this nine letter word that gets thrown around all the time .. but something that we usually never take the time to really think about. We say things like “I’m so happy!” all the time, but like many things in our daily lives, it’s one of those things that we don’t choose to take the time to think about.

Of course, happiness is feeling pleasure and contentment, but have we completely equated our happiness to the little things like getting our nails done, or getting the latest iPhone? Don’t get me wrong – fresh nails and a new iPhone are objects of happiness – but I’m talking about type of happiness you feel that makes it seem like you’re on top of the world.

Since moving to San Francisco (one month ago.. HOW CRAZY), I’ve had the time to take a step back and really look at my life and reflect… and the crazier thing? The people that I’ve met in this city have pushed me to reflect in ways that they or I could have ever imagined.

About three weeks into my time here, I was at the train platform conversing with a woman, who asked me  “Are you happy?” And as odd as this encounter may sound as I write this, I wasn’t taken aback by her question – but instead by the answer that immediately came out. I easily said “yes, I am”. Her response?, She smiled and said “You look really happy”. I smiled said thanks, and the conversation moved on. This incident left me with so many thoughts, the first being – wow, I am so happy, and I have so many reasons why.

Fast forward… and here I am two weeks later, writing about this because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. No one in my life prior to this one woman, has ever directly asked me if I was happy or told me that I looked happy. I’ve been asked ” Are you OK”, “Are you alright”, but never “Are you happy”… and this can be for so many reasons, but I have a feeling that it’s mainly because we have just taken for granted our happiness. Our happiness shouldn’t be automatic, it should be conscious choice.

I don’t think that I’ve been unhappy, but this conversation and the past couple of weeks have shown me what it truly means to be content. I can easily say that I’m currently living my dream – still. surreal. – and so much of my life is like a dream come true at this moment. I’m happy with how much moving across the country has allowed me to grow (even in 5 short weeks). I’ve been both pushed and shoved out of my comfort zone through this experience, and it’s only just begun.

In the past five weeks, three people have told me that I look very happy (something that I hasn’t ever randomly happened in the past 20 years of my life) – and I am. I am so happy – it’s hard not to be, when I have so much to be grateful about.

Now, the purpose of this post was not to tell you about my happiness, but instead to ask and even suggest if you’ve ever taken the time to think about your happiness. When was the last time you were happy and what does true happiness look like for you? Like I said earlier, that iPhone or whatever shiny new object you desire can definitely equate to happiness, but in the big picture – how much does it really matter?

It’s time to stop worrying about the imperfections of the past, time to appreciate the beauty of the present and definitely the moment to take a step back to realize all that we are lucky to call ours.

 

One Month In SF!

Hey hey –

Guess what –  It’s been 1 month since I picked up my life and moved to San Francisco (for who knows how long). There’s no doubt that it’s been a crazy four weeks – with no day being the same and some sort of adventure each day. I’ve done so many touristy things, tried some great food and met some even better people!  San Francisco has proved to be pretty great in my time here thus far, and I may have even told some of you that I’m never coming back to Chicago (LOL). It’s true, though, each day here makes it hard to think that I’d ever enjoy snow or Chicago wind.

It’s crazy to think that if I do come home to Chicago, it’ll be in two short months (how does time fly so fast?!)! I’m trying to make the most of whatever time I have, so I’m happy to say that I’ve taken up doing like 89% of the things I normally consider to be out of my comfort zone. It’s something about this California air that makes you want to be spontaneous and do the things that scare you… at least that’s what I’m telling myself. If you want to hear more about these things, stay in touch! 🙂

To say the least, this first month has definitely been a growing experience, in all the right ways.

Here are some pictures of my first month — check them out, and as always don’t be strangers!

The Mosiac Stairs
Up Above San Francisco!
The Painted Ladies!
A Fun trip I got to take for work to The Painted Ladies during week 2!
CREAM
Delicious ice cream sandwich 🙂

 

Golden Gate
Most recently, I went to the Golden Gate Bridge, kind of late I realize 🙂

On to the Next Adventure

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to move to either NYC or California (yes, I know California is huge). Thinking back, I really can’t remember the one moment that made me adore these two places – but the one thing I do know is that over the years the desire to be in these coasts has just gotten stronger. I’ve always been a city girl; the excitement and energy of the city really makes me feel alive (minus the traffic). Being in Chicago for college was a blessing; I was able to network with professionals in the city and simply be a part of the rush and energy on a daily basis. But my wanderlust had got me itching to do something different.

Though, as I began to wrap up my college career, I was looking for something new. I had always wanted to live in these new places, and my bucket list of places to live was also becoming more narrow: Los Angeles, NYC and San Francisco were at the top (talk about $$$ places). So, when it came down to graduation and post grad plans… I realized that this was my opportunity to do something I had never had the opportunity to truly do – live in a new city! That’s when this journey really started. I began to apply to jobs and internships across the country, in cities that I could see myself finding adventure and an awesome professional experience. Through this process, I had never really thought about my dream coming true – I’d faced rejection before (as you may have read). BUT, that being said, I got really lucky, and was offered an amazing internship in San Francisco for three months!

Before I share with you how exciting all of this truly is, I’ve got to be real and say that this was also a terrifying idea. I had no idea what it felt like to work a real 40 hour a week job, move to a new city, or even cook a real meal for myself (oops). But, the fact that this opportunity was so out of my comfort zone is exactly why I took it. I have a friend who always says, ” do one thing that scares you, each day” — and well, this was it. Of course, I was uncertain about all of this, terrified, even, but I was ready.

So, that brings me to now. I’m here in San Francisco, in one piece 🙂 I successfully moved to a new city, started a full time job and have almost mastered the public transit system.

FullSizeRender (9)

 

That being said, I’ve only been here for five days now, and each day has been an adventure. I’ve pretty much depended 100% on Google Maps and have managed to get lost about once a day — but it’s been a fun week! 🙂 I started my first full time job, working 40 hours a week, and have already gotten a taste of what it feels like to be utterly exhausted at the end of the day. Whoo!

While I haven’t had the opportunity to be a tourist in this city, San Francisco doesn’t fail to impress. The houses are colorful, the streets are hilly and even the public transportation is unique– cable cars on the streets! Seriously, all of these things are such a big difference from the Chicago city lifestyle. I don’t know if I’ll still be in San Francisco after these three months or will be coming home to Chicago, but for now I’m so excited to see what the next three months have in store for me!

IMG_0406

If you’ve been to SF, live in SF, or just have advice for me, I’d love to to hear about the things I should do, not do, etc. Otherwise, stay tuned for other updates along the way 🙂

IMG_0405
Even the benches are cute!

 

 

World: New Grad Edition

Yes, I’ve been MIA lately. But I promise, I had an excuse — I was pulling myself together for the real world! And well, this post is my of saying: I’m here, real world! Today I graduated from Loyola University Chicago, the place that has become my home for the last three years. It’s crazy to look back and see how far I’ve come — from that first day of freshman year, getting lost on campus, to today, where I walked across the stage.

DSC_0366

I’m not going to lie, crossing that stage, I felt more than just happiness. I felt sad, I felt excited, I felt proud, and most of all terrified. For many, graduation is that one day that you count down to from the start of senior year. Maybe that’s because you already have your future planned out; you know exactly what you’ll be doing once you’re outta here, or maybe you have an adventure planned, or maybe you’re just ready.  So, now I’m here, so thankful for the memories, friends, mentors and support that this institution gave me, and a little bit more sure that I’m ready to ‘set the world on fire’. I don’t know where life is taking me next, but I do know that tomorrow holds an adventure!

Tomorrow my family and I leave for a 10 day trip to Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon! I’ll be sure to share some pictures once we’re back!

IMG_9194

Cheers,

A New Grad 🙂

Samsung: Advertising for a Good

Advertising, like Marketing is perceived many times as a brand’s attempt at convincing a consumer to drop money on a product they may not necessarily need. This evidently is the dark side of marketing, however I like to think that brand’s are doing more than pushing their product to the forefront of a consumer’s mind. They’re telling a story – this Samsung ad is an excellent example of how brands can really touch consumers.

 

Be Present.

I want to start off my asking a question – when was the last time you were able to have a real conversation with someone? Or how about a few moments to self-reflect?

For many of us (including me), the answer is probably not too often. When I say “real” conversation, all I mean is a conversation that allows you to learn more about the person – their dreams, fears, passions and goes beyond the typical conversations that we are all used to having, mostly filled with LOLs and OMGs. I hate to break it to you but those conversations don’t mean too much in the bigger picture. And by self-reflection, I’m not asking if you took time (if any) where you sat down to ponder the meaning of life…. but have you simply taken a moment or two to think about your goals and aspirations and maybe even your passions?

In our day and age, we’ve all become so engrossed in constant communication through social media and technology in general that we have basically forgotten how to be by ourselves or with others (without our technology). Like I said previously, all our conversations with our friends seem to happen through our iPhones and apps like Snapchat. The truth is that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this type of communication, but the problem really lies in the fact that when we have the opportunity to be in the moment, we don’t take it.

Most recently, I’ve started to notice that I spend idle time browsing the various social media platforms, just for fun. Sometimes the purpose is to catch up on things that I missed, but our ability to be in constant communication with others and all our access to technology is starting to “eat away” at our ability to self-reflect and connect with others.  I’ve started to notice how much of my time I spend trying to keep up with others, through Instagram pictures or Snapchat stories, instead of actually taking the time to connect with those around me. With our iPhones giving us easy access to everything, we choose to take hundreds of pictures of the moments that matter most (i.e birthdays, weddings, etc.) than actually make a conscious effort to simply be present with those with whom we sharing these moments. I promise you that I am not against taking photos -on the contrary-  I am completely for them! Photos capture these great moments for us forever, and that’s important- but what I am trying to say is that we need to make a conscious effort to not put so much of the emphasis on capturing the memory than enjoying the actual moment.

I am by NO means a master at the things that I am suggesting. I struggle everyday with having to put my phone down to simply take a moment and be with the people around me. I catch myself pulling out my phone on the CTA  just as an excuse to avoid eye contact with those around me.. and more often than not, I notice the people around me and even myself wanting to make sure that every special moment is captured into a Snapchat story — when these very moments can be enjoyed with the people around me.

Our lives won’t last forever (not to be grim), and based on some research- we spend at least TWO hours of our day just on our devices. If you do the math, those numbers add up quick. Just take a moment with me to think about all the great moments you could be enjoying if we just took even an 30 of those minutes to just be with those around us.

I want to leave you and I with a small challenge- put your phone down for a extra moment or two, look around and BE PRESENT. Appreciate your surroundings and the people around you because those are the things that will keep us going in the end.

Until next time,

Foram