Writing From The Ordinary


There were two primary factors driving my decision six months ago to start this blog. First, I wanted to keep myself writing. Not only is it something I enjoy, but being able to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly is a skill that everyone should have, and practice makes perfect.

The second factor was that I wanted to document my life enough to allow me to really appreciate it. To have a record of everything. My personal journals tend to only be used if I'm upset, so they're filled with more angry, illegible scribbles than anything else. Here, I'm putting things out there. Things that I can look back on, things that hopefully other people can relate to.

But the question is... how can I write anything worthwhile from living an ordinary life?

What 'Gilmore Girls' Taught Me (So Far)


My daily end-of-the-night routine lately has been to plant myself on the couch and watch Gilmore Girls. I do this every day, so I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with myself when I finish the series. (Something productive? Ugh.)

I never watched the show when it was on the air, but I am now in the midst of season four. I've watched more than 70 episodes, I think Lorelai is the best, and I wonder just how many jobs Kirk actually has.

What I really admire about the show is the real-life feel of it, with everyday characters living everyday lives. Lorelai doesn't wear a different designer jacket every time she leaves the house; she tends to repeat the same three or four. It's relatable. It's a great show with a lot of solid life lessons woven into every storyline. Here are a few things it's taught me so far:

November Things


Winter is my least favorite season. It's too cold, it makes driving difficult, and the first snowfall is the only good one. Still, I can't deny that I love how much brighter the mornings are when the sun is reflecting off of blankets of snow. I love big comfy sweaters and thick socks. I love the seasonal coffees and Christmas decorations. I love snuggling up the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and watching a movie. Being warm inside feels extra special when the outside world is frozen. I don't like winter, but man, the winter months can be nice.

Here are some (other) things I've enjoyed this November:

My Sunday // 11.29.15



I like taking pictures, yet I always feel like I don't take enough. It's nice to be able to capture happiness in a form that I'll always be able to look back on. Luckily, I also have this blog to serve as an outlet to store all of my memories.

Today was my boyfriend's birthday. We went to Lincoln Park Zoo to look at the lights, and I took a million pictures so I'll never forget it.

23 Things I've Learned In 23 Years


Today is my birthday, which means that I am officially 23 years old.

Despite its downsides, 22 was truly a great year for me. I spent a lot of time in the city, went to my first Cubs game, and met Leighton Meester. I took my first out-of-state trips with friends, to Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, and Wisconsin. I went to Hawaii for the first time. I debated on whether a dress was black & blue or white & gold (and flipped out when my friend went from definitely seeing one to only being able to see the other). I graduated college. I discovered that I do like eggs over easy. I went from looking like this to this. I got a job, moved into an apartment, started this blog.

I experienced so much at 22 – every emotion on the spectrum; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful.

In an attempt to share whatever amount of wisdom I've managed to gain during my 23 years on this fine Earth, I've compiled a list of 23 things I've learned so far. Still, I know I'll forget them from time to time, and I know I still have a thousand more to go.

For me, these are 23 reminders.

On Vulnerability


If I had to choose one emotional state to experience for the rest of my life, vulnerability would not even cross my mind. It's not a good feeling, being vulnerable. It makes you feel small. At the same time, it's one of the most powerful states you could find yourself in. When you're vulnerable, you are open and susceptible to anything, and you can either interpret that as a risk to get hurt or as an opportunity for something great to happen.

BrenĂ© Brown's TED Talk on the power of vulnerability shifted my thinking from the former to the latter. It is a beautiful thing to listen to. I've watched the video four times. An emotional state that is so dreaded, that makes people feel so scared and weak, was found to be a crucial stepping stone in life. A necessity. Brown opens your eyes and your heart to the world and the people in it.

October Things


"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand, it would look like complete destruction."
— Cynthia Occelli

My Road To Adulthood Pt. II / and other thoughts


How ironic that right after posting about how I identify as a writer, I find myself too busy or too tired from the day to actually write. I've been wanting to get something posted for the past two weeks, but my mind drew blanks. I actually posted a version of this a few days ago, but it felt so forced that I took it down.

The good news is that I am officially settled into my new apartment (!!!).

Two weekends ago, I spent nearly all of my time moving, building furniture, unpacking, and organizing. It's a nice one-bedroom place with so much space that I don't even know what to do with myself. I can have clothes on the floor of my bedroom and still see the floor. I could do a cartwheel in the living room. MY WELCOME MAT SAYS "WIPE YOUR PAWS." It's all so cute. (I also think I'll have to buy more things to fill all of the closets...)

Living alone does make me a little nervous, but I think it will be good for me. It's a symbol of growth and independence. It's a new chapter for me, and I'm welcoming it with open arms.

Re: Blogger or Writer?


Do you label yourself as a blogger or a writer? An interesting question for me to stumble upon on Sunday night. One that has caused me to question myself more than I thought it would.


I've been working on this post on-and-off since Sunday, and my thoughts have been a little all over the place. It has turned into a more elaborate jumble of thinking out loud than I intended. Essentially, I think I can break it all down into three parts: what I label myself as, how that affects me, and what I want moving forward.

Go To Brunch With Yourself


I woke up this morning and immediately wanted food — a combination of not having eaten a full meal in more than a day and it being Sunday, the designated brunch day. After asking my boyfriend and my only other friend who lives less than 40 minutes away, both of whom couldn't, I decided to just go alone.

Because when no one will go to brunch with you, go to brunch with yourself.

So now I'm spending my afternoon drinking coffee, eating banana nutella French toast, and feeling rather proud of myself. Not just for going to eat at a restaurant alone for the first time, but for everything that I've accomplished so far in my life.

September Things


Near the beginning of the month, I bookmarked a post I found on Tumblr called "September advice for the signs." I'm not a big believer in astrology or the zodiac signs, but I still find them interesting to read. I myself am a Scorpio. I stumbled across the post again the other day and realized that I had unknowingly followed its advice.

Scorpio: You are pure and beautiful, and I miss your sweet obsidian smile and lyrical tongue. Find yourself a home.

And find myself a [new] home I did. (I'm counting the days.) I'm sure October has a lot in store for me as well.

Some things I've enjoyed this month:

– The Mindy Project is back! Mindy Kaling has a great sense of humor, and I'll never understand why more people don't watch this show.

– "A little bit more than just a new 'do"... a piece about the ties society sets between beauty and having long hair, and how you can feel just as beautiful and even more liberated when you chop it off. I absolutely loved it from beginning to end.

– I definitely had Rachel Platten's new single Stand By You on repeat for probably ten days straight.

– A great video, "Why Not Choose Kindness"... because why not? "You are the first and last 'you' who will ever exist in all of human history. And you are lovable, and it's such a shame to think anything but." Tessa Violet is a lovely human.

– Thought Catalog's article "13 little things I started doing differently to improve the quality of my every day life."

– My friend Jade is one the most ambitious people I know, and I'm very proud of her for chasing her dreams. She recently moved into a studio apartment in the city (and started a blog about it). When I visited, we were able to squeeze Shake Shack, Dylan's Candy Bar, and Sprinkles all into one day. Amazing.

– This perfect response to Jenna Fischer's tweet (and if you don't get the joke, then you need to start living your life the right way by watching all of The Office ASAP):



Love is...


Love is helping each other, trusting each other, and respecting each other.

It's building each other up instead of tearing each other down.

It's being partners. Equals.

Love is wanting to spend time together. Love is being able to spend time apart.

Love is calling me Nicole the very first time you met me, and then calling me Nick every time after that. (Or maybe you never even called me Nicole then.)

Love is giving me the first and last bites of your food, even when I try to say no.

Love is "Good morning!" and "Goodnight!"

"How did you sleep?" and "How are you?"

"Is there anything I can do to help?" and "Let me know if you need anything!"

Love is that look in your eyes. (Love is that same look in your eyes when I'm in my PJs without any makeup on after a long day.)

Love is "Let me know when you're home safe."

Love is "Pull over, I'll drive."

Love is not letting little things ruin our day (anymore).

Love is you waving goodbye from your driveway and me flashing my brights at you in response.

Love is "Come over, I made us dinner."

Love is wanting you around when the good things happen. It's wanting you around when the bad things happen.

Love is you opening the passenger door for me, and then me leaning over and pushing the driver door open for you.

Love is somehow knowing from the minute I met you that you would always be one of the most important people in my life. (How is that even possible?)

You've been at my side for more than one-third of my life. You've been my partner for half a decade.

Happy five years, you.





My Road To Adulthood



(Fitting picture, huh?)

My apologies for the cheesy title, but lately it really does feel like that's exactly what I'm on. Here's a little rundown of how my life took a 180 in just one week (in a good way):

MONDAY: I decided to start looking at apartments online. Nothing too serious, no rush.
WEDNESDAY: I scheduled an apartment showing and contacted a few other places.
SATURDAY: My parents and I looked at a couple of places.
SUNDAY: Applied for an apartment.
TUESDAY: Approved!

I guess when I get excited about things, I really dive right in. Even I didn't see this one coming.

So, it's official. In three and a half weeks, I will be moving into a place of my own. My first apartment. It's a little daunting, but even more than that, it's exciting. It will push me a little out of my comfort zone, especially since I've always been pretty against living alone. I already have mental floor plans and decoration ideas floating around in my head.

Here's to impulsive decisions that are a little bit crazy but make life a little more fun. Cheers.

On 'Growing Up'


"If you're not losing friends, you're not growing up."

To be honest, I'm not sure of the origin of this quote — whether it's from someone famous or whether an average Joe said it to his friend and it somehow spread all over the Internet. Who knows. But I've seen it a lot, and I find a sort of odd comfort in it. Reassurance. It's okay that this happened.

I've lost a fair amount of people over the years. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it was theirs. More than likely it was a little bit of both.

Some people just don't mesh.

Others are just plain mean.

Losing friends is certainly not one of the finer parts of life, but it's one of the most normal, and it does help us grow. There's some truth in the saying. As we get older, we develop into our own person and become our own selves. We figure out what we want and don't want out of life and out of the people we surround ourselves with. We make goals and aspirations. It's rare that you can do all of this while simultaneously being as close to your elementary school friends as you once were. Sometimes it happens, but it's normal if it doesn't.

August Things


August was really good to me. (I wrote that sentence the other day and am now sick for the second time in three weeks, but I stand by my statement.)

Often times you don't realize that changes are taking place until they already have and you're looking back at how different things are. But now, in a weird way, I can actually feel things changing as it's happening. I can feel myself growing, becoming more independent. I also tend to have this gut feeling (maybe it developed as part of the whole growing up thing) that, even if things go wrong, everything is eventually going to work itself out. Everything is going to be okay.

Here are some things I've been enjoying lately:

— "The Gift," if only because Jason Bateman is one of the best. I saw it the night it came out and LOVED it. If you're into thriller/suspense movies, definitely check this one out. Two things I really liked about it were how natural and realistic the dialogue was and that you were still left guessing at the end.

— Cara Delevingne announced that she's leaving the fashion world, turning her focus more toward film. Her reasoning for this is what I find so great: working in fashion didn't allow her to grow. Since working more on film, she says she's been better at standing up for herself. You go, girl.

— This article about how a woman met with her financial advisor and had her whole perspective changed when she was told that her options were to work more, save more, or want less.

— Currently reading: "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver.

— "Mindy Kaling's Guide to Killer Confidence" because she's a girlboss. The concept of hating yourself, emphasizing all of your flaws and referring to yourself in negative ways has become so glorified. But what's attractive about a person who hates who are they are and does nothing to fix it?
"People's reaction to me is sometimes 'Uch, I just don't like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.' But it's not that I think I'm so great. I just don't hate myself."
This post from Becoming Minimalist about how we are all influential people and have the power to change lives.

— "Candidly Nicole" has become one of my favorite shows to watch during the week. Nicole Richie's hair and clothes are everything.

— The fact that Taylor Swift sang "Smelly Cat" with Lisa Kudrow on stage in L.A. Could that BE any more awesome?

Happy Dunkin Donuts pumpkin spice day!

On Acceptance


Acceptance is important in any and every relationship — accepting a person for who they are. This does not mean you have to like every single aspect about a person (that would be highly unlikely); you just have to accept them, flaws and all, the good and the bad. (Now, if you're friends with somebody or in a relationship of some sort, it's implied that you accept them and they accept you. However, sometimes we learn the hard way that this isn't the case, though it should be.)

When I think about this idea, there are two things that come to mind, both of which make me internally scream YES! whenever I see them again.

The Most Magical Place On Earth


After about a week and a half of knowing that I was taking a trip to Florida but still not quite believing it was actually happening, it happened.

Funk


Let me tell you something — you can't expect other people to be in charge of your happiness. Your friends should care about you, of course, but your happiness is up to you. Everyone has their own problems to deal with and obstacles to get over that they just don't have the energy to take on anyone else's. You can complain and vent all you want (the good ones will actually listen, but let's not overdo it), but oftentimes that's as far as you'll get. It sucks. Oh well.

So, you have to take your happiness into your own hands.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been in a bit of a funk lately; feeling weirdly sad because of some reasons but also for no reason at all. If I was out, I wanted to be back at home. If I was home, I was wishing I was out somewhere. Part of that is just me being me, but another was never feeling satisfied or fully happy — and I just didn't know why.

Yesterday, that all (finally) changed. I guess I was right about August being a new beginning.

July Things


I've been in a weird funk lately. Early mornings, busy days, little sleep, and having to put more than a paycheck's worth of money toward my car. Not the best. But now it's August, which means we are one step closer to fall, my favorite season. Another new beginning.

Despite my busy days, I've still been able to see my friends a lot, which makes me happy. I spent a day in the city with my friend Jade eating good food and seeing her new workplace. I went to a bonfire and caught up with some friends I haven't seen in a while. I've also gone to the movies more than I have in the past year probably.

So now, here are some of my favorite things from the past month:

— Not using the word "just." I came across an article a few weeks ago that discussed how using this "permission" word can be a "subtle message of subordination, of deference." I thought it was really interesting, and it made me realize how much I use the word, especially in work emails. Since then, I've been very aware of it and have tried to use it less.

Broad City was one of my greatest discoveries, and Ilana Wexler is queen. If you watch the show, you're familiar with her infamous criss-cross bralette style. After wanting one for months, I finally bought one and am in love.

— I've been doing yoga for at least three years now, but have been gotten more into lately, going 2-3 times per week. If you ask me, finding a good yoga teacher is just as important as finding a good doctor, dentist, etc.

— I'm not a big lipstick wearer because I usually feel like it looks weird on me, but I am loving e.l.f. matte lip color. I have it in "rich red," which has definitely upped my Taylor Swift game.

— "The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World." After writing about being an introvert, I ordered this book off Amazon. I'm not too far into yet but look forward to reading more. Sophia Dembling does a great job of putting the introvert's thoughts into very accurate words.

— John Green's response to Cara Delevingne's painfully awkward interview, "But Did You Read The Book?" He makes some great points in Cara's defense. Most interestingly, he mentions that Nat Wolff was usually asked when he read the book, whereas Cara was asked if she read the book.

Now, I am welcoming August with open arms.

Not Damaged, Wiser

(Front row, professional photographer-style photo courtesy of my dear friend Jade)

If you know me, you know I love (or more accurately, am moderately obsessed with) Taylor Swift. If you don't know me, now you know.

On Sunday, I got the best text anyone could get on a Sunday night: my friend who works at B96 had two extra tickets to the Taylor Swift concert at Soldier Field. My sister and I were out the door within ten minutes. I'll skip over the part where we drove an hour into the city only to be stuck in the car for another hour looking for parking. Eventually, we found a parking garage, snagged a spot, and walked/ran over to the stadium just as the last opener was finishing up.

As expected, the concert was amazing. Taylor Swift really does know how to put on a show. One of the things I love the most about her, though, is that you can tell that she really does love and care about her fans. She doesn't take any of her fame for granted or feel like she's better than anybody else simply because she's a celebrity. She's still a real person who's growing up and trying to get through life like the rest of us. She's human.

Between songs, she'd talk to the audience, sharing her wisdom and giving us little pieces of life advice. My favorite was her introduction to "Clean." It was great in Chicago, but I came across this version from her show in Manchester on June 24 and loved it.

You are not the opinion of somebody who doesn't know you. You are not damaged goods just because you've made mistakes in your life. You are not going nowhere just because you haven't gotten where you want to go yet... You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile. That's what you are.

How good is that? How true is that? How long have you been waiting for someone to tell you exactly that?

Far too often I have let other people's opinions of me get to my head and tear me down. I've dwelled on my mistakes instead of using them to help me learn and grow. I'm compared myself to others in a way that made me feel inferior in some way. These are not the things I should be doing.

I am a person who tries her hardest to do the right thing and to be kind to others and to be a good friend, daughter, girlfriend, etc.

I am doing the best that I can, and that's enough, because it's all I can do.

There's not much else I can add — and I don't even want to, because her speech is so perfect in itself. I wanted to pass along her words in hopes that some of you love them as much as I do.

A Much-Needed Weekend


After a very busy week, working overtime a couple of days and coming home feeling like there wasn't enough time left in the day to really relax, this weekend was just what I needed. Spontaneity, new clothes, a trip downtown, and good company.

Introverts: The Misunderstood Breed


I consider myself to be an introvert, which seems to be something that many people either don't understand or are just reluctant to accept -- both of which are unfortunate.

I'm a shyer person; I love meeting new people and making new friends, but it's unlikely that I'll be the one to initiate a conversation with a stranger.

Spending a lot of time around people and/or outside of my house can be draining, and I need time to myself to recharge. If I've had a busy couple of days, a night in for some "me" time becomes a priority. While extroverts gain their energy from others, introverts gain it from themselves.

Feeling close to people is important. In the words of Sophia Dembling in "The Introvert's Way," (a book I've actually been meaning to read for a while now), "Introverts don't get lonely if they don't socialize with a lot of people, but we do get lonely if we don't have intimate interactions on a regular basis." A lack of these intimate interactions can make us feel disconnected from people. Even though we like to physically separate ourselves from others at times, we still want to feel emotionally connected.

June Things

How is June already over? Has it really been over a month since I graduated college? That can't be possible. But it does bring me to a post that I'm pretty excited about.

At the end of each month, I'm going to highlight five things, in no order, that I liked during that month that you guys can watch, buy, use, etc. I've seen a lot of blogs/vlogs do this, and I like the idea, so here we go.

Embracing Your Soon-To-Be Trends

The other morning while I was getting ready for work, I thought about how months ago (maybe a year?), I did not understand the obsession with eyebrows. I didn't know why they mattered to people so much. I had plucked mine, but I wasn't drawing them on or filling them in at all. Nada.

But now here I am, June 2015, and I not only use eyeshadow to fill in my eyebrows, but I sometimes even use Maybelline's Browdrama to complete the look.

It got me thinking about how there are girls out there who have naturally thick eyebrows, and before thick eyebrows were "in," it's possible that they felt a little self conscious about it, since thinner eyebrows were what was more common. But now that's the look that everybody is trying to have, and the girls who were scoffed at are now envied.

Aloha


Every couple of months, I tell myself that I'm going to start a blog. I get excited about it, I think about post ideas... and that's about as far as I get. That's probably been going on for a couple years, but now I finally did it. I have a blog! (Hopefully it sticks around for a while.)

If you're reading this soon after it's posted, it's probably not a very nice looking blog -- yet! Give me some time. Between work, the gym, and snuggling my dogs, I'll work on the layout and design of this thing eventually.

While it's probably safe to assume that a lot of my posts will involve me thinking out loud about various things, I'll try to keep things interesting. And what better way to start than with Hawaii?