We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie “Kitty” Merola and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie “Kitty”, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Creativity and artistry is often met with our own complex struggles. It’s worth it to find out what makes you tick and how to make the best of the good, the challenges, and beyond. How do we wrangle in our bursts of creative genius and instill time management, while taking care of ourselves, loved ones, and the tasks at hand? And if you have a pet, kid, or spouse in the mix, there are more things to balance? Oh, and add in your additional side hustles and a 9-5 gig to pay the bills? Yes, it can feel like the weight of the world, but over time, I learned to unload my plate and place important boundaries to ensure my soul felt nourished. Because if you don’t feel 100%, everyone else will feel it, too. And you’re awesome, so protect that magic at all costs! Trust me, I know: it can be tough when you’re juggling a lot. Especially when a lot of responsibilities and people depend on you, it might seem overwhelming, but over time, through those growing pains–and they ebb and flow–I can see that there will always be varying seasons of what we need and where our attention is needed at the time. I think that can look very different for each person, especially someone in a creative career like myself. It’s important to know who you are, what you need, who you can ask for help or delegate with, and create mindful time together away from work. Yes, you need time and space to get creatively fueled and inspired. You have to take care of yourself first. Period. And it isn’t always a quick fix with a bath bomb, face mask, or shopping. Realistically, it isn’t sacrificing your avocado or yummy latte either. Do that for yourself if it makes you happy! And if you don’t feel good, inspired, rested, and fulfilled, how do you rest, recharge, and reset for the next big thing? Take a step back and listen to your inner child. He/she/they know what you need. Are you voicing those concerns? Speak up. Life keeps going and things keep coming, so the best way to mitigate stress is to first listen to your needs. Once you have a routine down that helps you, along with ways to bring yourself back to feeling calm in your space, it is easy to navigate when things are thrown off for the moment. You can get back into the swing of things unscathed. Your loved ones want to help, too, and you’re there for them, right? Ok, see? Closed mouths don’t get fed, so speak up. Delegate, create boundaries, and find time management that works for you. Sometimes what you need is already within you. It starts at home. Rediscover what that means, since it can change over time, too. You’re human, so allow yourself space and understanding to grow, change, and seek new needs. Once you find what self-care works for you, then you have to have a set of 1-3 tasks each day that must have priority for that day. If those are met, then anything else achieved is a bonus. And sometimes, you need a day of rest. Don’t ever feel guilty about that. It is productive to take care of yourself. Becoming a mom helped me realize this quickly! Your loved ones need you, and you need them. Have the courage to ask for help, delegate tasks, and nap– or do nothing to reset off and away from a screen. Having a life that pours into your cup is a sweet one. You will have to fight for it, create for YOU, and keep going. Life is more than money, even if we need some to pay the bills. It’s about finding your purpose in the work and helping others, while also finding ways to pour one cup into the other sort of speak. When you feel like yourself and know how to protect yourself with time management and boundaries that work for you, that is the real gold right there. Your loved ones and your future self will thank you for pursuing what makes YOU feel like YOU, and you’ll be grateful to only invest time in what makes you happy and healthy. I hope you find what makes you feel true to you, and keep listening to what you need.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love to create colorful and meaningful content. It has to bring joy. If it inspires someone to face their fears or motivates them to try something new, I feel grateful for that. I love to write articles to help car shoppers find what they need, while also having a great time reviewing each vehicle. On the other hand, I love illustrating in Procreate on my Apple iPad and Pencil. My feed is scroll-worthy with these rainbow-filled looks. And it doesn’t stop! More to come there It has not been easy to continuously pump out art, articles from style to cars, and then rebranding to have two separate blogs. It’s a lot of work! I had to challenge myself to shoot even on days I didn’t feel like myself. I push myself beyond the boundaries of what I think I can do, and then, I find that I CAN do this or that. It’s exploratory, but you can’t discover it until you try it out. Sometimes, there’s a partner and a good friend pushing you along the way, too. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned that can help others grow their brand and story is to continue creating. Do not stop because of a troll telling you something. Do not stop because you didn’t get as many likes or followers. Do not stop if you think you don’t look your best or sound perfect. It isn’t even about that. It’s bigger than you can imagine. What the world needs is inside of you, and that is your authentic self. People have been force-fed media garbage about who and what we should be, but you know what? Only you get to decide your identity and that’s beautiful. You never know who is watching your content. It could be you inspiring someone to feel good about themselves, cheering someone up having a bad day, or simply be the reason someone smiles today. After a while, if you’re creating and changing to adapt as you go, eventually things click along the way. It takes time! We never just arrive at this destination of completion. Life and accomplishments are transient, so we must make the best of it. It sounds cliche, but the joy, inspiration, and true learnings are within you and the journey. Cherish it every step, whether it is grueling or enjoyable.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d take my best friend to Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain, Borrego Springs, and Joshua Tree National Park. I love new food and drink adventures, too. If I can spend time at the pool, museums, thrift shops, and in nature, it’s going to be awesome. I have too many favorites, but I think it’s easy to try something new everyday of the week and never get bored. I don’t get to visit often to California, but when I do, I go all out with a packed schedule. In Austin, TX, there are tons of places for food and drinks. Kayaking on the river or checking out a show downtown or on the East side. The Cute Nail Shop is the coolest. Definitely go thrifting and enjoy the graffiti art around town, too.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Elias is a big source of support, love, encouragement, and effort behind me. He sometimes knows me better than I know myself. It’s crazy. He helps me take a deep breath, relax, reassess, and strategize the next steps. He reminds me to rest, and often, he reminds me that rejection is protection. And he’s always right. My little Nostradamus here helps me recognize my triggers and how to overcome them each time. It’s tough, but it’s where I learn the most about myself. You’ve got to do the work, or you’ll stand still. Another source of encouragement and support is from my friend Lillie Morales-Torres from Jersey Fashionista. She reminds me to stay colorful, say NO when I need to protect my energy, and boldly keep moving forward with new strategies to tackle SEO and creating evergreen content. We share resources with one another, and it’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown even within the last year. I’m so proud to call her my friend and grateful for the learnings along the way. One of our [Elias and I’s] good family friend Angel Martinez is part of our original South Florida “tri-force”, if you will. He helps me with marketing and restructuring how I create content efficiently with a busy schedule. After a few months of rebranding, I now have a set YouTube content schedule. I’m working on putting myself out there more. It feels good to know I have this team to build what you see growing and thriving today. Through the ups and downs, I know these three people have my back. It’s about quality and NOT quantity. You don’t have to be anti-new friends, but it is about knowing who you want to be surrounded with in life. Surround yourself with others who have big hearts, great ambition, and follow through.
Other: Other blog info: instagram.com/kittysglamrides, twitter.com/kittysglamrides, Facebook.com/kittysglamrides, bit.ly/kittysglamrides (YOUTUBE)