Oh Chicago

I am not typically a city girl, but it is safe to say I fell in LOVE with Chicago. I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Chicago Collective event the last couple of days with Cuff To Collar. What is the Chicago Collective you ask? Well, it is a men’s apparel and accessory trade show where tons of vendors come to show their summer/fall product lines in hopes that buyers come ready to shop their product. For those of you who know me, you know how perfect this event was for me and for those of you who don’t, well I have a passion for merchandising (especially men’s apparel). Not only did I get to experience a new side of fashion merchandising/buying, but I also got to see some amazing product and meet some great people along the way.

So what made me fall in love with Chicago? Well, I’m not sure about you but I wouldn’t mind my typical Monday night to consist of eating deep dish pizza with my friends at Lou Malnati’s, then heading to Three Dots and A Dash for an under ground tiki bar experience, and finally heading up stairs to close the bar at Bub City which is a local country bar with a live cover band (they also make a really delicious drink call back porch tea). Usually crowded over populated areas stress me out and aren’t fun to me, but Chicago felt so much more spread out compared to San Francisco. I know these two cities are totally different, but San Francisco is my reference point giving where I grew up. So obviously I got to experience good food and fun nightlife, but I was also lucky enough to get to explore Chicago and do a little site seeing before I spent my day meeting vendors. Chicago is a beautiful city considering most cities can look dirty and crowded; it was very spacious and clean. I was able to walk from Navy Pier to Millennium Park and see The Bean and everything in between. I was happy to be such the little tourist.

I know Chicago has so much more to see than what I was able to jam into two and a half days, so I can’t wait to plan another trip to visit. If you haven’t considered Chicago for a vacation, I honestly recommend you visit at least once. I’ll go ahead and wrap this post up with some pictures of my trip. As always thank you for following along, and I hope you enjoy!

Xoxo

Nicole

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Hello 2017

There is only one rule for 2017 and that’s we do NOT look back at 2016. Ok, ok… maybe I’m being a little dramatic. WHO AM I KIDDING?! 2016 was a big year for me, and although I learned a lot about myself I don’t wish to look back at the year. Struggling with your happiness is not easy because you feel like you are never at peace, but the first step was realizing how unhappy I was and putting one foot in front of the other in a direction that would make me happy. No one wants to look back at a time in their life when they were unhappy, right? So goodbye 2016 and HELLO 2017!

So here I am, one week into the New Year and I am asking myself what all do I want to accomplish in 2017? Well, for starters, I am not going for the cliché caption many people are guilty of using “A new year, a new me”. I’m choosing to look at the new year with a different perspective because I have come to really love who I am so I don’t want to be a new version of myself, just a better version of myself. I know it might all sound the same, but to me it means something different and that’s all that matters.

So what are my goals? Well I have a few, nothing crazy or too specific. I want to leave them a little vague so that I can decide if I feel accomplished at the end of the year. Here we go:

 

Health & Body

For starters I want to feel comfortable in my own body. This doesn’t mean I want to hit a special number or even that I want to get into a specific work out routine to gain a noticeable amount of muscle. I just want to feel healthy, and comfortable in the clothes I wear while making a conscious effort to exercise and eat right.

Friends & Family

In the upcoming year I want to continue to strengthen my relationship with my family. I want to visit my sister and nieces and spend quality time with them. I want to continue to sustain my strong friendships with my life long friends, but I also want to branch out and continue to make new friends. I want to constantly support and love the people who matter most to me.

Travel

I want to take advantage of where I live and take the time to explore areas around me that I haven’t seen before. I want to get outdoors more and spend time in nature. It might not be California, but Kentucky is beautiful in its own way and there is plenty to see in the states around me. Lastly I want to travel to a destination I’ve always wanted to travel to but didn’t have the time or the money.

Mind & Spirit

I have become a much more open-minded person than I have ever been in the past, and I want to continue to have an open mind and try to understand other points of view. I want to continue to embrace change because I still struggle with this, believe it or not. Most importantly I want to relax a little and not be so damn hard on myself. I am not perfect, and that is ok!

I am sure that there is so many other blogs posted about new years resolutions, so thank you for reading mine and I hope you continue to follow along in 2017!

Xoxo,

Nicole

 

 

 

The Confessions of A Single Woman

After a few glasses of wine and a much needed FaceTime date with one of my best friends, I was inspired to share my thoughts as a single woman in todays society. Single women in society after a certain age aren’t looked at through the same filter that they are looked at in their early twenties when they had more single friends than they have now. So here is a little insight, since everyone LOVES to give their opinion on what the single women in their lives should do. Before I get started, I do want to say that I appreciate all of my friends love and support, so please don’t take offense to this. I also want to put out a disclaimer that this isn’t necessarily how I feel currently but thoughts I have felt at some point in my time being single. Oh and also remember that I am super sarcastic and it’s not to be confused with bitterness.

  1. Just because I choose to forgo the bullshit of getting ready and choose to enjoy a quiet night snuggled up with my dog and a glass of wine in my favorite PJ’s, doesn’t mean that I’m going to end up alone and become the crazy dog lady. Let’s face it I’m already a crazy dog mom with or with out my relationship status.
  2. I can also offer insight into the opposite of the previous scenario. If I choose to go out and have a good time and drink a little too much, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to settle down or be serious. I am single with nothing tying me down, so if I choose to go out and have a good time it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me.
  3. Yes, I am an independent woman who has lived on her own and made her own house a home with out a significant other. That doesn’t mean that I have three heads or deserve a special award. Newsflash, living independently and being able to provide for yourself is completely and absolutely NORMAL. I am flattered that you want to pump me up and make me feel good about myself, but sometimes it can feel a little condescending.
  4. If I don’t ask to be set up with anyone DON’T assume I would appreciate you trying to set me up with someone. If I want to date, I will date. Thank you.
  5. I know that I am single; I don’t need to be reminded of it. I am a confident person and don’t have to have a date to feel comfortable hanging out with my friends who are in a relationship or married. I appreciate you caring about my feelings, but I am totally fine attending an event solo.
  6. I know my worth. I have heard the line “You are a great girl and deserve the world, but…” enough times to know that if a guy really wanted to be with me he would do whatever it takes. I don’t need your opinion or life advice to realize this. I know you are just trying to help, but I saw the warning signs before I even decided to tell you.
  7. I can’t magically make a relationship happen. I don’t know when or how I am going to meet the guy I end up with, so please respect that I can’t just pull my dream guy out of a hat and be just like you, happy and in love.

Ill wrap this post up with some advice for people in relationships and happily married couples. Dating these days can be a complete nightmare. There are too many dating apps and ways to put yourself out there that it can make your head spin. So please remember that you haven’t been single in a while and you might not remember what it is like, so before you go offering your opinion, STOP and put yourself back in the single lady shoes you grew out of.

Xoxo,

Your Single Friend

 

Kentucky Livin… California Dreamin

Every time I have had someone ask where I am from in the last 4 months I have answered honestly with California, and it is instantly followed with confused looks and an over exaggerated “HOW DID YOU END UP IN KENTUCKY?!” response. I never really understood why people made such a big deal of it until the last week and a half. I AM COMPLETELY FROZEN! I am not exaggerating either. The coldest it has been back home is what low 50’s? Yeah well as I am writing this it is currently 15 degrees. This morning I showed an act of true love for Cody (my dog for those who don’t know) when I had to run outside in 13 degree weather barefoot, in sweatpants with only a t-shirt on to open our back door that connects the screened in porch and backyard to let him out to pee because the door that is usually open was closed. To give you some perspective incase you are curious what 15 degree weather is like, I wore wool socks with my UGGS today, and I was still chilled. I now understand why people take tropical vacations in the middle of winter. Incase you can’t tell already, I absolutely 100 percent miss California winters.

I promise I really enjoy Kentucky, but people in Kentucky drive COMPLETELY different than people in California. An upside to driving in Kentucky is that the speed limits are higher here than back in the bay area. The interstate speed limit is 70, and most in town driving is 45-55. HOWEVER, with this people either drive 10 above the speed limit and make you feel like you are driving like a slow poke on the interstate, or they drive 10 below and make you crazy driving in town. Another thing people are notorious for here in Kentucky is running red lights. Not only does one car run a red light, but that car plus the two other cars behind it run the red light. NEVER proceed through an intersection with a green light with out counting to 5.

HAHA.. I was going to start writing about the stuff I enjoy about Kentucky, but I still miss a few things. I miss my favorite food places. In-n- Out, there are literally ZERO words that can tell you how much I miss it. Dutch Bros Coffee, yeah I’d probably kill someone for a mocha freeze or an iced white mocha. I am NOT kidding. I miss good Mexican food, street tacos, and even Murillos (only people back home will understand why). I REALLY miss going directly to the source for my favorite champagne and all of the views, and enjoying a bottle of champagne with best friends. Aside from all of that, I miss all of my friends. This is the time of year I am missing all of the holidays, birthdays, and family functions. I am incredibly lucky to have the support system I have though, I love all of you guys so much!

Now onto the bright side of Kentucky! I have met some great people so far. I have made friends with some down to earth people who have not only introduced me to a local pizza place (I have a serious weakness for good pizza), good beer, ALE- 8 (one of the best sodas ever) and bourbon, but they have accepted me with open arms and haven’t judged me for who I am and which is one out of place Californian. 2016 has been filled with so much change and so many challenges, and I can’t wait to put it behind me, but 2017 is filled with so many opportunities. I have so many great places to visit all with in driving distance. I have the next 8 months to actually LIVE my life and enjoy all that I can before I start another new chapter (I will share more later). One of my best friends, Michelle, is coming to visit at the beginning of the New Year and I can’t wait! SO EXCITED! Another one of my best friends is moving only 4.5 hours away from me and it will be so great to be close to someone from back home. Every day Kentucky starts to feel more and more like home. I know all of that sounds cheesy, cliché, or overly optimistic, but all of that beats anxiety and negativity every time. I hope you enjoyed this one, and I didn’t offend any Kentucky natives in the process.

Xoxo,

Nicole

Life Update

Hey Ya’ll! I know it has been a while since my last blog post, and I am so sorry if you have missed me. Who am I kidding? I am not that popular, lmao! As you can see, my sarcasm hasn’t disappeared. I have been a little busy living my life, but I also haven’t posted anything new because I had a little writer’s block. Then tonight it hit me! I started this blog to put myself out there and share my thoughts. So far I have shared a lot about myself, my past, and where I am in life, but I haven’t talked much about my daily life and what I am up to right now in the present. I haven’t shared much about my daily life because up until a month or two ago there wasn’t much to share, but I have made some progress in my life here in Kentucky and I’m here to share it with you.

So what’s new in life? Well for starters I have adventured out and visited new places. In the last few months I have traveled around parts of the country I hadn’t been to before, with my favorite place so far being Charleston SC. It is a gorgeous city to visit with beautiful architecture, a ton of history, and of course great food. I visited new parts of North Carolina that I hadn’t been to before, and saw first hand the impact of a natural disaster post Hurricane Matthew. I got to venture out locally and find local places to go to for good shopping, food and drinks. I have been able to see the seasons change, and seeing the change from summer to fall was gorgeous in this part of the country and much more dramatic than what I am use to back in California. However I am not looking forward to winter. I keep hearing that the worst is yet to come, but I am excited to see the first snowfall.

Aside from a little traveling and visiting new places, I have finally found not just one job but two jobs! After hundreds of applications and a couple of interviews, I finally found two opportunities. What are these opportunities you wonder? Well, I didn’t completely get out of retail, but I found a great LOCAL small business that specializes in fine men’s apparel. Cuff to Collar has been so much fun, not just because I get to stay close to my retail roots, but because I get to see how a small business operates. I work with some amazing people, and I am so grateful. While Cuff to Collar is a fun part- time job I also have a full time job working as an office assistant for Bluegrass.org. Bluegrass is mental health and substance abuse clinic and the organization provides services in 17 different counties through out Kentucky. Bluegrass has been a completely new experience for me, and so far it has been great to meet a wonderful team of people who have been so welcoming.

So not only have I traveled a little, finally found a job or two, but most exciting of all, I have met new people and made new friends. It has been great to feel like I have made some connections that allow Kentucky to feel more like home than it did when I first got here. Everyone I have become friends with has been so welcoming and truly so much fun to get to know. If any of you are reading this, thank you for being so accepting and supportive!

I know this post has been long so ill wrap it up with some pictures that show my journey from the moment I made my decision to move across the country up until this last weekend. Don’t you worry though, there is plenty left to share about life in Kentucky, the best is yet to come.

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Xoxo,

Nicole

 

Not All Who Wander Are Lost…But I Am Lost As Fuck.

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How many of you are guilty of loving the (basic bitch) quote “Not all who wander are lost”? I am guilty of loving that quote myself. I think it is important to have adventure in your life, in fact I think its necessary. With out adventure you get stuck in a daily routine, which isn’t always a bad thing, but you can lose sight of what inspires you. I found myself stuck in a routine in the last year. Wake up and drive to work, clock in and work, clock out and drive home from work. I was making a living, but I wasn’t living. Now tell me, what is the point in making a living if you aren’t going to enjoy it?

So here I am free of a routine, across the country from what I have known for the last 13 years and I am lost as FUCK. I have no idea where to even start. It was so much easier back where I came from because I could pick up the phone and head over to my sisters house around the corner, or drive up to my girlfriend’s house for a night out. Now I have to take a step out of my comfort zone and explore a town I don’t know very well, SOLO. I need to let go of the comfort of what I WOULD have done back home, and move forward with what I WANT to do here. As cheesy of an idea as it may be, I need a bucket list. I don’t need it as a checklist but as a source of inspiration of what I want to accomplish next (maybe I’ll share this once its done).

I woke up this morning and got dressed. My outfit for the day consists of a pair of sweat pants, and over sized t-shirt, a flannel, my slippers, and I didn’t even run the brush through my hair. Am I upset about it? Absolutely not! This is exactly what I wanted for the longest time after feeling exhausted by routine life. I am happy to spend my day in comfortable clothes, enjoy an iced coffee and hang out with my dog, but I still want more. This is perfect for me right now, but I didn’t give up my career, friends and family to be lazy.

After writing this all out, maybe I’m not as lost as I think I am. Maybe I am right where I’ve wanted to be and it is just time to keep moving.

-Nicole

Girlfriends For Life

What do you do when your boyfriend/husband is being an ass, or the guy you met from your most recent online dating venture is nothing like you thought he would be? What do you do when your life at work is a complete nightmare, or you didn’t get your morning coffee and had to sit in traffic? How about when you see the cutest puppy on Instagram, or you see a girl’s post that use to be hot in high school but now looks like a busted can of cinnamon rolls? If you are anything like me, you pick up your phone and text your closest girlfriends and vent, laugh, cry, or all three simultaneously LOL.

There are many important relationships you will have in life, but what would life be with out girlfriends? It would be HORRIBLE! There have been multiple times in my twenties when the support of my closest girlfriends got me through some of the hardest times, even when I didn’t ask for it. There have also been plenty of girls nights in my life that have been some of the most entertaining times I could ever have asked for. Like that one time I went to the grocery store on Valentines Day (SOLO) and bought three bottles of champagne to be there for one of my best friends when she needed me, the looks I got were priceless! Ladies if I am going to be honest, most men will never understand our friendships with girlfriends but you know you have found a keeper when he accepts you and your crazy friends. For those of you who haven’t found your prince charming, make sure he appreciates your girlfriends before you settle.

I am very fortunate to have friendships that have lasted over a decade, friendships that have become family, and friendships that have grown up and matured as I have. All of my girlfriends are strong, bright, supportive, understanding, fun, beautiful, and a little bat shit crazy (yes, they should have all considered careers as private investigators). You know you will be best friends for life when you hide in bushes with your best friend to see if someone was telling you the truth (we were teenagers). Don’t lie ladies, we are all guilty of doing something crazy for our closest girlfriends. If you haven’t maybe you are normal and the rest of us are just fucking nuts! If there is anything I know for sure, life wouldn’t be as fun with out my friends.

Thank you to all of my close girlfriends who have given me a lifetime of memories to look back at and cherish. Thank you for never passing judgment and always accepting me as I am. Thank you for being you, women that I can admire for all that you have accomplished and can count on for your continued support. I know we are living in different time zones these days, but I am always grateful for you.

-Nicole

True Life: I Am A Dog Mom

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Growing up in life I always told myself all I ever wanted was a successful career, money, and to have fun. Well, that was up until my mid twenties when I realized the feeling of the phrase “my biological clock is ticking”. I took a step back, looked around, and realized plenty of women around me were getting married or having children. I never thought I wanted a husband or a family of my own, mostly because of my upbringing and the childhood that I had, but I’ve come to realize that a family of my own is what I am looking forward to most in the next chapters of my life. So how does this play into being a dog mom? Well how many of you ladies out there have heard the words, “I don’t want you to end up being the single crazy dog lady”? NEWSFLASH: I love being the crazy dog lady because a dog has never made me cry or question my self worth!

What would this post be with out a brief background of my dog? Cody is a three-year-old German shepherd, and up until 24 years old I had gone my whole life with out owning a dog. I will never forget the day we brought Cody home, mostly because I didn’t get any sleep that night and instantly questioned what we had gotten ourselves into. There have been plenty of lessons learned through out the last three years, mainly to keep everything out of Cody’s reach, which was easier when he was a puppy. Even though there have been times when I have wanted to sit him in the front yard with a free sign around his neck, I can never forget all the times that Cody has been a true companion when I’ve needed him most. Also known as the times I have been sitting on the couch crying because of something life threw my way, but Cody would jump up and lay next to me until I calmed down. Cody knows all my secrets, and lets just say it’s a good thing he can’t speak English.

I know that if any of my friends are reading this, they are laughing and totally agreeing, especially the friends who are in the same place in life that I am. I have been given a hard time for how much my dog means to me, and I don’t care. Life is better with paws, and if you don’t agree, well then I think you’re CRAZY! If you are reading this and you have wanted a dog but haven’t taken that step yet, go out and rescue one ASAP because you won’t regret it. So many dogs need someone to adopt them, and love them, and offer them a permanent home. Check your local SPCA’s or look online for different rescue groups, because there is a perfect dog out there for everyone who wants one.

-Nicole

Confidence Is Key

Confidence by definition is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. When you think of someone you find attractive, how high on the list of traits does confidence rank? In my opinion, a high level of confidence can easily rank in the top five attractive qualities someone can posses. So, why am I writing about confidence? I am usually a fairly confident person and I know what I am capable of, but ever since I’ve started making significant changes in my life I feel like I’ve lost some of my confidence along the way. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and it challenged me to remember the confident person I feel like I’ve lost touch with.

If you are struggling with your confidence, or doubting your confidence level, first remember you aren’t the only one who feels this way. Second make a list of some of your best qualities. Some of your best qualities could be your personal style, health/fitness/body image, intelligence level or education, work ethic, compassion for people. Third, BELIEVE in yourself, no matter what! Don’t ever let anyone or anything take your confidence from you, be brave and stand strong.

For the longest time my career generated my confidence because of all that I had accomplished. I know this may sound crazy to some people, but stepping away from my profession led to my struggle with my confidence. Now that it has been a couple of months since I have left that part of my life in the past, I am able to use my ability to make a life changing decision as a new source of my confidence. If I can make the decision to start over and leave behind everything I have accomplished for a new future, I need to remember to believe in myself.

Even on your worst day, don’t forget what you are capable of!
-Nicole

Relationships and Dating Disasters

Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Match, I have tried them all. Bless my heart, right? The whole point of my blog is to be honest and open, and what is more honest and open than exposing my dating life. I am not going to share any names, and if someone I have dated reads this and isn’t happy about it, sorry but you were a part of my life. I realize that this can create a negative opinion of who I am, but I bet that everyone who reads this will relate in one way or another. If you don’t relate, good for you, but the rest of us are still figuring it out.

In the last six years I have casually dated, started relationships, fallen in love and the worst part had my heart broken. If there is one thing that you should never under estimate it’s the power of a break up, however hopefully you learn something as you move on in life. I have no regrets about my dating history, just to make that clear, and I don’t think all men are assholes. We all have met someone of the opposite sex in our lives and can hopefully admit that in some way that person changed us for better, or in some less positive cases for worse. I met a guy right before I turned 21 and even though it has been turbulent at times (this is an understatement), we have found a way to be friends today. Lines get blurred, and as people we are both less than perfect (he wouldn’t admit to be anything less than perfection), but I will always appreciate the honesty and support he has provided over the last six years. I mention him because after things didn’t work out romantically between us, I entered the reality of the dating world today.

Casually dating and meeting men these days is a trip. Apps have been created for you to swipe left or right based on a few pictures and if your lucky a half assed bio that is less than 200 words. No matter what you think, these dating profiles won’t prepare you for the person you meet. I had success using a reputable dating site and it led to a nine-month relationship that I can honestly say was some of the best times I have had in my twenties. The relationship started with two complete strangers spending the perfect day together, I’ll spare the details but it was pretty great. After that day I was hooked, and our relationship took off. We brought our lives together, introduced friends and family, traveled here and there, and before you knew it I fell in love. As time went on and the relationship reached a fork in the road and our feelings for each other changed, well at least his did. The worst part of this relationship ending was losing one of the best friends I had made in a partner. This relationship plus the one mentioned earlier played a major part in my life and taught me a lot about myself, but its time to move on, and what is a dating life with out the casual dating experience? BORING!

So at this point I have had my heart broken a few times, but don’t want to give up on finding “the one”, and at the time I was the token single girl out of my friends. So, what did I do? I activated Tinder, and honestly it should come with a warning label. The warning label should read “ CAUTION: This app may lead to a drunk guy showing up at your house at 2a wanting to cuddle all while repeating how he will never date you over and over” (yes, this really happened). There is a double standard in the dating world today, if a guy is too forward with his intentions he is only after sex, and if a girl is too forward with her intentions she is a stage five clinger. While fun dating apps have lead to lots of fun first dates, they haven’t lead to many second dates, but they always make for great group text conversations with my girlfriends. Sorry guys, but girls share everything and if you didn’t already know this, you’re welcome! Incase I haven’t said it enough to my close friends, thank you for always being there and listening to my crazy dating adventures, and you’re welcome for the entertainment I have provided.

I haven’t given up on finding love, but I have learned that it will happen when it’s meant to and I have no regrets.

-Nicole