Nika emails letters to her subscribers each week, sharing personal stories that include lessons on better decision making. 

Here's a sample of the letters she sends. Become a subscriber, and you'll get to read more.

How did we get here?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we’ve gotten to where we are.

I’ve spent the last week at a somewhat spontaneous family reunion. Uncles, aunts, cousins… relatives I haven’t seen in years.


At moments, I let myself be the observer more than the participant (an occupational hazard of being a researcher). I heard stories and life advice. I heard jokes. I heard recipes for favorite dishes.

As I watched and listened, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how my family members – all from the same family of origin – ended up in such different places. Different spouses and children. Different careers and friends. Different life experiences, perspectives, and personalities.

This past week, I heard more than one person say, “It is what it is,” or “That’s life.” These are common expressions. I've heard them said by many people.

Things are in fact what they are, and not what we want them to be, so I get the first expression. And yes, life is challenging, and full of ups and downs, so I get the second expression. But these expressions also seem to suggest that our experiences happen to us. As if there we are, going along, and suddenly life stuff happens, and then we have to somehow deal, and that’s just the way it is.

Except that’s not the way it is.

Sometimes you just have to ask.

I've been thinking lately about how, in our personal relationships, choices don't always reflect desires. This has been on my mind since my most recent visit to Home Depot. 


I hate Home Depot. It’s the worst. Some employees seem to think they can convince me to buy anything. Others don’t seem to care if I buy at all. 


Once, I asked an employee at Home Depot where the Bondo was. He directed me to the opposite side of the store. I trekked the mile over and looked where he told me to look. No Bondo.I asked another employee at that location where the Bondo was. He said he didn’t know. Then a third employee, a woman, walked out of a back office (I assumed she was a manager). “I overheard you asking where the Bondo was,” she said. Then she directed me back to where I originally was when I asked the first guy where to go. And right there, right where I had originally been standing, was the Bondo.  


I hate Home Depot. As soon as a better option pops up, I'm shopping there. 


Home Depot will never know how I feel because they don't ask. I wish Home Depot would ask me what was wrong. And if I told them, I wish they'd listen and fix it. But they can't bother training their employees, so I figure they won't address my concerns.


My relationship with Home Depot is strained, even though I'm giving them my hard-earned money. 


Relationships with people aren't much different. People stay with friends or romantic partners even when they aren’t happy. Sometimes they stay because they don’t think they have better options. Sometimes they are carried along by inertia. Either way, it's good to remember that just because someone remains in your life doesn't mean they're satisfied with you.


Choices don't always reflect desires.