Hi, I’m Berrak and I get awkward crazy eyes when I meet celebrities

My very first comic con was in Seattle in 2013. I was struggling with adjusting to life in my new home, and I was beyond excited about comic con.

The most exciting part? Seeing Misha Collins in person. I knew that I wanted to do a photo-op with him, as well as an autograph session.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve met celebrities before – I love meeting my favorite comedians after their sets. Sure, I’m a little awkward, but I look normal in the pictures.

So when it came time to meet Misha, I was nervous and ecstatic, but I had no idea what was about to happen. I got in line for my photo-op and waited for two hours. Mind you, this was my first con experience, so I didn’t know what to expect.

If you’ve never done a photo-op with a celebrity at a convention, let me enlighten you: Read more Hi, I’m Berrak and I get awkward crazy eyes when I meet celebrities

Small Business Saturday 2017: Etsy Edition

I’m a huge advocate of shopping small when possible, every day, but especially during Small Business Saturday. If you’re not familiar with it, Small Business Saturday is an initiative by American Express, which has taken on a life of its own.

Every year, I try to highlight a few of my favorite Etsy shops and the women behind them.  One of my favorite parts about Small Business Saturday is reminding everyone that shopping small can mean online, supporting Etsy shop owners who work hard at creating high quality, handcrafted goods with love. (If you’re a frugal shopper like me, I’d like to point out that Ebates now provides cashback for Etsy purchases as well. Right now, you can get 6% cashback on your Etsy purchases)

On to the shops: Read more Small Business Saturday 2017: Etsy Edition

“I’m a little bit rusty, and I think my head is caving in”

Between panic attacks, hiding in my apartment, obsessively reading the news, and working, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the people in my life.

There have been a few great heart-wrenching conversations over the past few weeks.

I visited North Carolina to spend time with my best friend of 18 years.

One of my closest friends visited me in Seattle this past week, and even though we’ve only been friends for 3 years, I consider her family.

Another one of my best friends is someone who’s only been in my life for a little over a year.

18 years. 3 years. 1 year.

I’ve been a friend of convenience to many people in my life. The person they needed to boost themselves up before moving on to the next chapter. I’m fairly certain I’ve done that to others throughout life as well.

It’s just how we operate. Sometimes on purpose. Most of the time, subconsciously as we try to navigate this emotional maze of life.

I’ve let a lot of people down. And in some instances, I’m still making amends. I mean, I really am a bad friend.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about people is that we’re all fighting our demons, and we all make assumptions.

I certainly do.

A lot of tears have been shed over the past couple of weeks as I’ve finally broken down and said “I know I disappointed you. I know we’ve drifted, but this is a friendship I want to fight for. How can I make amends?”

It’s hard to quiet the noise in my head yelling at me about being unworthy, telling me that every single person in my life will leave eventually. It’s hard to think over the screams of doubt, to find the strength to sit down and write the words.

It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Because people will come and go during my life. I firmly believe there are seasons of friendships, but when the dust settles, who do I want by my side?

Those are the connections I’m fighting for. Those are the connections I want to mend. Those are the threads that I’m holding on to for dear life.

I want those 18 years of memories to turn into 36. I want every moment I spend with my friends to count, even if all we’re doing is sitting on the couch and watching Will & Grace.

So, I’m fighting.

I’ll keep fighting but there are days when battles are lost, or cancelled because I can’t find the strength after fighting my own demons.

There are days I won’t make sense. Days I’ll be extra needy. Hours of crying. Moments of doubt where I’ll ask “No, but seriously, why are you friends with me?”

And sometimes, there will be those times when I am so worn out, so defeated, so scared, that I’ll get on the defensive.

The walls will come up and I’ll push the world away.

Real talk: That’s where I am now. I can feel the defenses going up. I can hear the walls being built. I can feel my fragile heart retreating to recover.

I honestly don’t know what it will take for me to feel secure again. I’ll keep fighting those battles when it’s necessary but right now?

Well, you’ll have to bring those battles to me.

Making Peace with Being Settled

Sometime last year, I seriously contemplated the idea of selling all of my possessions (except for my books, of course), and truly embracing the nomad life.

The wanderlust was strong, and I was feeling antsy.

My life was going to be an adventure, with Seattle being my home base.

When I had to put Dot down last year, I wasn’t going to get another cat. I wouldn’t take on the responsibility of another pet.

I was going to be spontaneous – ready to get away at a moment’s notice.

There would be no need for me to settle down. I didn’t want to put down roots, even as I was finally building solid friendships with people I could actually trust to stay in my life.

Then heartbreak happened.

I felt like a failure as a friend. As a woman. As a partner. As a business owner.

Over and over again.

So, I kept driving. I embraced the road. All I needed was Roxanne, the clothes on my back, my laptop, my camera, and McLovin. Nobody else.

I didn’t want to settle.

But then… Read more Making Peace with Being Settled

A Seaside Getaway

What happens when two writers decided to have a weekend getaway and their first real bonding experience as friends?

Not as much writing as you would think.

When Jessica and I planned this little getaway, life was kind of kicking both of our butts. We’ve been working a ton, she’s got a toddler, and me – well, I’m a hot mess. We promised that this would be a relaxing weekend full of laughter, bonding, drinking, and sleep. Lots of sleep.

What I didn’t expect is just how much we’d bond, and how she would just bring out the ridiculously silly side of me. As one of the first friends I made in Seattle (thanks Twitter), and as a fellow writer, Jess holds a special place in my heart. I was a little worried because we’d never spent 1:1 time that lasted more than our Restaurant Week dinners.

“What if she hates me? What if I’m annoying? OMG WHAT IF WE RUN OUT OF THINGS TO TALK ABOUT? WHAT IF I TALK TOO MUCH? OH MY GOD” Read more A Seaside Getaway

The One Where I Turned 30

I always post my birthday posts on my birthday. Always. This year, though, I wasn’t sure how to approach it. I mean, it’s a big milestone, and I know it’s a big deal but I couldn’t exactly nail down why. I have a lot of thoughts about it – not necessarily related to the fact that I’m now 30 but just my life in general.

There wasn’t a magical change that happened when the clock struck midnight on April 1, 2015. I was in Scottsdale, AZ with 5 awesome guys who decided that even though I was on a work trip, I wouldn’t enter my new decade alone in a hotel room. On my birthday, I was at a conference, running full speed, doing what I love. To be honest, 30 has been amazing, but it wasn’t because the Earth rotated around the sun for 365 days.

The truth about my life is that in my darkest moments, I didn’t think I’d live to see 30. Even if I did, it’d be as a failure, or in miserable circumstances.

Then I took control of my life. I made an active decision to be selfish. I chose to own who I am, and finally build the life I’ve been stubbornly wanting for as long as I can remember.

I am needy .

I am the memory keeper.

I am a cat lady.

I am ugly.

I am angry.

I am passionate.

I am an aspiring digital nomad philanthropist.

I am the heaviest I’ve ever been and I’m OK with that.

I am at peace with my tagged photos.

I am an Amplifier.

I am a writer.

I am 30.

I am surrounded by love because I stopped looking for my tribe, and looked for passion instead. A few days after my birthday, I stood in my apartment, overwhelmed. There were about 10 of my closest friends in my home, laughing, drinking and chatting it up. They were there for me – to celebrate me. To get to know each other through me. They chose me the way I chose them.

At one point, my anxiety got the best of me and I didn’t know what to do with myself. My awesome friend Nate took one look at me and asked me what I needed him to do – and proceeded to take control of the party. In that moment, it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve always talked about looking for the people who can sing back the words to my song when I forget the lyrics.

The moments that matter are when we can’t be there 100% but the ones around us can take charge, like a relay. They’re the ones we trust with the most precious torch of all – our heart.

My lovely friend Jessica made a comment about me being the Kevin Bacon of our group, which made me laugh. (Muslim girl, bacon…ya get it.) But it made me happy. See, the thing about my friends is that I am not the center of gravity in any single group. I’ve always been a drifter, but now, as adults, I choose to amplify the best part about my friends. So when friends I’ve made through the most random circumstance are all in a room together, they can get along without me having to navigate the conversation.

Career-wise, I cannot be in a better place. And honestly, I will be posting a different blog about that.

Ditto to the whole dating thing. I’m taking a break for a while, but that’s a different post for another day.

I won’t do a 30 things I learned about being 30, nor do I want to write a letter to my younger self. Every single moment of my life leading up to this point has had a purpose. There’s been a reason. Sometimes that reason was that I couldn’t fight depression and needed to be destructive. When friendships fell apart, the reason was to learn to trust my gut and feel that pain to grow.

The magic about 30 isn’t in the moment the clock strikes midnight. The magic is in the moments leading up to it. It’s in the intentional decisions you make in order to live the life you want. They aren’t all life changing decisions, like taking a leap of faith and driving cross-country. It’s in the smiles you share or that hello in line at the coffee shop. It’s in the random conversations you have with someone at the bar while waiting for your friend. It’s in the decision to take a bath and read for 30 minutes instead of going out for a drink on a Friday night. It’s in the chaos. It’s in the moments after a rain storm. It’s the 30 seconds you have before your alarm goes off, when your cat/dog/baby is snuggled up perfectly against your body.

The magic about 30 isn’t about being 30. It’s in any day, any age, any moment of your life.

So take a deep breath, set your intentions, and figure out what it will take for you to be happy.

I chose Seattle. I chose being a freelancer. I chose to stop dimming my own light to make others happy. I chose to heal.

I chose me – scars and all.

Oh and don’t worry – the ridiculous selfies aren’t going anywhere.

“Ma pensée, c’est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m’arrêter. J’existe parce que je pense … et je ne peux pas m’empêcher de penser.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

Why I Stopped Looking for My Tribe

I have always had a hard time belonging. Always. There are days I don’t feel like I even belong in my own skin, but that’s a different kind of battle I fight every day.

No, I never really belonged to one group. I spent my middle school years feeling alienated, my high school years adjusting, and my early 20s feeling like the only people who understood me lived thousands of miles away. I wrote about how I wasn’t a girly-girl because I didn’t have a group of girlfriends I met in college, or anything that even remotely came close to fitting the Bring It On/Clueless/Sex and the City standards girlfriends seemed to live up to in those days.

I came to terms with it. Kind of. I grew up, I moved out, I made friends – I lost them, and for a moment, I thought I had found a group of girls I could call my tribe. They were the ones I could count on to stand by my side when I was going to get married.

Then that all fell apart too.

Once again, I started searching. I looked 40 years into the future and sought out my potential Golden Girls. I wanted to just feel like I belong.

The more I searched, the more I reached for a group to call my own, the more I realized how that, by nature, creates exclusion. The idea of finding ‘your tribe’, which has gained popularity in the female population over the last few years, is essentially a grown-up version of being Mean Girls.

No, hear me out. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have people we trust more than others. An inner circle is essential, but it shouldn’t be exclusive. In the last few years, I’ve made girlfriends under a variety of circumstances.  I met all of them under unlikely circumstances, when I needed to in my life, and our relationships evolved over time. I trust, though, when they come together, they’ll get along because the qualities I seek in those closest to me are similar. They’re trustworthy. Passionate. Encouraging. Funny. Sarcastic. Empathetic. Smart. 

But I wouldn’t call them my tribe. We don’t all hang out every week. We don’t all have to hang out together every time. My friendships with them are separate, but when we all come together, there’s no exclusivity about it.

Finding your tribe isn’t supposed to be about inclusivity or exclusivity, but let’s face it, that’s what it’s become. That’s human nature. Over the years, I’ve observed so many people preach about being accepting while being negative behind closed doors. It’s frustrated me, because to me, that’s being hypocritical. While I could probably get along with these individually, it was clear that not getting along with one of them would mean being an outsider. There would be resentment, and more than likely, whispers within the rest of the group behind my back.

mean girls 1

So I stopped looking for my tribe. Instead, I’ve tried to focus on individual relationships. Anything that turns into group mentality and lends itself to exclusivity is out for me. The moment I begin to feel like I can’t be myself around my friends is the moment I begin shutting down.

I don’t know where my relationships will be in 5, 10, 20 years. Maybe I won’t ever find my Golden Girls, but I trust that whoever is by my side won’t ever make me feel excluded from our friendship.  In a world full of judgment, <stereotype>-shaming, and backstabbing, I choose to surround myself with strong individuals who don’t let their insecurities stand in the way of their growth.

Because, let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that.

How I Want to Remember My 2013

I wasn’t going to write a wrap-up blog. I mean, I certainly won’t write a blog about resolutions, but guys, 2013 was a big year for me.

But I don’t want to remember just the big moments. I want to remember the fleeting moments in between. Maybe not the shitty first dates or that week when I was all alone in unbearable pain and not a single person stopped by to check on me.

Actually, I do want to remember that because on days I feel weak, I want to remember how I made it through hell and survived. One week with wisdom tooth pain may not seem like hell to a lot of people but when you combine the depression and the disappointment of realizing that certain people you counted on don’t really give a shit about you, it became something I had to survive. And survive, I did.

According to Facebook, my first big moment of 2013 was getting an apartment. Well, yeah. That was a pretty big deal and I did blog about it.

Read more How I Want to Remember My 2013

This Is Not A List of Resolutions

(I originally wrote this in December, 2011. These remain true for me today)

Around this time of year, the blogosphere is filled with reflections, resolutions, and everything in between. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself but that’s because I didn’t leave my reflection to the end of the year.

I get the sentiment – a new year is peeking at us and we’re overwhelmed with this sense of renewal. For some of us, the new year can’t come soon enough. I’ve had those years myself, when everything associated with that year seemed like a bad dream.

Maybe it’s because I’m an “over-analytical bag of compassion” (as I’ve been called) but I tend to do my reflecting on a daily basis, so when December rolls around, it’s nothing new. Sure, I look back at my year and reflect a little but for the most part, I’m just ready for another day.

Because that’s how my life is – day by day. At times, it’s hour by hour, because I can’t predict anything anymore.  The only thing I can do is reflect, try to figure out patterns and then find out what works for me.

Over the last few years, especially over the last two, I’ve nailed down a few truths about my life.


Blood does not family make. Blood makes you related to someone else. It’s the mutual love and respect you have for another human being that makes you family.

People in my past who treated me like shit and broke me gave me a chance to rebuild from the pieces.  I may have jagged edges but the pieces are still me – just stronger, a little crooked but a whole lot wiser.

I will have bad days where I slip, whether it’s emotionally or literally as I hide out on my couch. The world outside will keep moving but I’m in control of the direction of my world.

My gut never steers me wrong. I just need to listen to it.

I think about death, way too often. Sometimes, it’s in irrational fear. Other times, it’s to reflect and remind myself that no matter how bad my day feels, I was alive today.  Tomorrow isn’t promised.

I’m a hot mess. That’s never going to change.

When my best friend tells me that a situation is sucking the life out of me, I should probably take note. For her to tell me that means that it’s been gradually pulling me down for a while.

When I get super drunk, I cry. A lot. This is a fact of my life. Sometimes, I throw up. I’m working on the throwing up part. The crying will probably never go away.

I’m an emotional wreck of a human being. You don’t want to know the things that make me cry on a daily basis.

Those who I call my best friends, the ones who are family by my definition, won’t leave me hanging – no matter how I insecure I get. I can’t let my past pain color the good in my life today.

Life is hard. Words are hard.

I can’t ever stop writing.

My life is where I want it to be. I can stop sabotaging it now.

I will never fully fit in to my surroundings, but I didn’t come this far in my life by fitting in. I came by owning the fact that I’m an outsider and making shit happen for myself.

I could never be any kind of inspirational writer/coach/speaker/fill-in-the-blank. I don’t know how to actively inspire others. I just know how to live and share. Anything else, to me, feels fabricated. [This is not a commentary on anyone else. This is something that I came to learn about myself after joining a couple of group sessions, trying to writing ‘inspiration blogs’ etc.]

No matter how old I get, I will never be too old for the silly things that make me giggle.


These are my truths based on my life and experiences at 2 years old. In a year, I might add a couple of things, or nothing significant could happen to change it.

All I know is that I’ll be doing my reflecting quietly, without any kind of life lists, because that’s what works for me.


How about you? Are you the reflect and make resolutions type? 

Do you have a life list?

Was 2013 a “Shit, I am so over it. Bring on 2014” kind of year?

A Handmade Holiday Sale – Black Friday

When you’re doing your Holiday shopping this year, you might as well support individual artists and small businesses while you’re at it. I wanted to share a few creative individuals who are having holiday sales for their handmade items.

Read more A Handmade Holiday Sale – Black Friday