Featured in the Lakeshore Weekly News
Ten years ago, I approached a local editor with the idea of me writing a column called “Outside the Box.” I wanted to write about fun and different things I experienced around the Lake Minnetonka area, as well as my thoughts on different topics I hoped might resonate with others in the community.
Writing was not my background, but it was and is my passion. I didn’t study it in school, nor did I have a degree of any kind. What I had was a desire to share. I also had crappy health insurance, making therapy hard to come by, not to mention I was in Scientology, where counseling outside of the church was not an option. My column became my therapy.
My beginning steps out of Scientology started with this column. The more I shared and interacted with others in the community, the more I realized I would be OK if I left Scientology, the controlling organization I had been raised in. I had been wanting to leave, but knew full well that you didn’t leave Scientology, you escaped it, which was something I needed to gain the courage to do.
Eventually, I did leave Scientology with my family in-tact, which was no small task. It was one of many wise decisions I made while writing this column. Over the last ten years I’ve probably written about 120 different "Outside the Box" columns.
I’ve shared more about myself than anyone in the Lake Minnetonka area probably cares to know about me. This column and community has seen me through:
I’ve turned talking about myself into a career. Whether writing as a columnist, creating content for businesses on social media or hosting my podcast with Twila Dang “Twila and Natalie,” I pretty much talk about how I’m trying to figure life out while sharing the things I’ve found helpful in the process.
My sixth-grade teacher once told me that my big mouth would not serve me well in life. I disagreed with him then, and I disagree with him now. We all have our natural-born talents. Beethoven was an incredible composer. I’m a master at over-sharing.
One of the most common questions I get is, “You share so openly aren’t you worried about what people will think?” My honest answer has always been: No, I’m not concerned. I’m in no position to judge anyone. I’ll definitely tell you how I think you should do everything from raise your kids to planning for your future, but I don’t judge or pay attention to someone else’s judgment of me.
It is the sharing of my own struggles and life that empowers me to share my advice as well. How can I judge you for getting a divorce when I have three kids from three different dads and have been divorced twice? Do you think I’m going to judge you for having a dysfunctional family when growing up my mom once divorced my step-dad and married my step-grandfather? Nope, I’m not. I believe the saying, “If you can’t be a good example serve as a horrible warning.”
I’m more comfortable with transparency and learning from my less than ideal choices, than I am trying to cover them up. Now, I’ve gotten some interesting looks in the grocery store when someone recognizes me from my columns, but not one time has anyone made me feel less than for sharing my truth. It could be they tried, but I’m so comfortable with myself that I didn’t see what they were attempting to do. The self-acceptance I feel comes from years of letting it all hang out.
I’m looking forward to hopefully another decade of navigating life in our community with you. Please know how much I appreciate every single person who takes the time to read what I write or who listens to my podcast, as well. If you haven’t yet you can find “Twila and Natalie’ on iTunes. I’ll keep sharing as long as you will listen.
My adventures in living life perfectly imperfect are featured in the Sun Sailor, The Lakeshore Weekly News and South Lake Neighbors Magazine.