If there is one thing I do very well, it is to adapt. Change is inevitable, I have learned from a very young age. My father was career Air Force and his assignments were often based overseas. Every two to three years we would often pick up and move. I was born in Taiwan when my dad was stationed there during the Vietnam War, and for the first 18 years of my life, we moved about 7 times, living in incredible locations like Panama, Brazil and Spain.
So change became my constant, and sometimes I find myself bored if life is a bit too static. That’s why journalism was right up my alley! A life of travel, experiencing cultures, telling amazing stories and witnessing history... it’s all I could ever want. I was so blessed to have all of that at the TODAY show as the news anchor, although sometimes those stories were heavy and hard to handle, like covering tragic events.
I did have it all. However, I also saw there was so much more to do and see, and so many more places to go.
I had always dreamed of living in California. I don’t know what it was, but as a young child I would often tell people I was born in California instead of Taiwan. It was easier perhaps to explain. I had visited Los Angeles many times for work and would find myself dreaming while flying into LAX, "What would life be like living here?" Well, fate would allow me to find out. While moving is scary and challenging, I know from personal experience, it’s also the best way to grow and to expand your horizons.
My boys, Josh and Luke, were then 12 and 7 and going into 7th and 2nd grades... perfect timing, I thought. They were both born and raised in Hoboken, N.J. which is a city that is exactly one mile squared. They had traveled lots, but Hoboken and our home there was all they knew. When I told them we were moving, of course they were sad and nervous. But as I explained to them, it was time to spread their wings a little bit and try out new adventures. For all of us, it was the perfect time for a new adventure and we have never looked back.
California living has taught me a lot about myself. When I moved here, people asked why I would give up my job at TODAY, which is in fact not the case. I just gave up being in New York on TODAY. They also questioned why I would “go Hollywood,” as I have heard often about taking my job at “Access.” My answer: I have been in the top job, I have spent years doing hard news and now I have a chance to have a little more fun. I still get to tell great stories on TODAY and “Access” and interview fascinating people, and who can argue with having fun? Also, I had spent so many years chasing stories and missing family time and important events... I thought to myself, this is not what being successful is about. To me, success means happiness first, and I was working too hard to not see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I still work too hard, I’m not going to lie. However, I’m living a life much more fulfilled and I’m home more with my family at the end of the day. I’m home to make dinners now many nights of the week, which inspired me to write my first cook book, “At Home with Natalie.” I enjoy creating and spending time at the dinner table talking to my kids about their day. They say home is where the heart is... and that is certainly true. When you are not home as often as you would like, well, it takes a toll on the heart. I needed to fill my bucket with things that meant more to me, and there is no time like the present.
I am happy to report that California living has done the body and soul good for all of us. We are getting to know this gorgeous and geographically diverse state that I honestly believe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We are finding new hikes and adventures to explore most weekends and spending more time together as a family. My kids love their new lives and their new school, and when their friends come visit, they are proud to show off their new digs. So, nothing like a little change to find your life can be redefined for the better, if you embrace all the new opportunities and challenges.