Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Commute

This morning was beautiful. I love mornings like this morning. Which is weird, because I used to totally and completely loathe waking up early. 

I'd drag my body into the bathroom to shower, feeling that it should be illegal to get out of bed before 11 a.m. I'd be stuffed up, coughing up crap, sore from sleeping wrong. I'd burn my toast and spill my coffee (of course, all over a pair of white pants). So, I'd have to change and I wouldn't have enough time to pack my lunch. I'd get in my car, and my gas tank would be empty. On the road, chimpanzees would replace human drivers. It was raining or sleeting or snowing... EVERY MORNING! Or at least, that's how I saw my reality, at the time.

Recently, something changed. 

Something within me matured, thrived, and grew up. It's actually something I can't quite give a reasoning for, besides the fact that sometimes you just have to sit back and let time pass in your life. Sometimes when you're in a funk, that's all you can do; Allow time to pass in order to gain perspective and inner resolution.

Lately, I don't mind mornings. In fact, I enjoy waking up, getting out of bed, and seizing the day. 

Different brand of coffee, you ask? Possibly. 

But, sometimes it just feels better to push yourself, rather than embrace the lazy angel scheming on your shoulder. Don't get me wrong, being lazy feels fabulous and sometimes, it's just what the doctor ordered. But, I just don't feel the need to bask in an aroma of procrastination as much as I used to.

This morning, I felt freakishly calm, happy, and at peace. Maybe it was the gorgeous sun beaming over the city's skyline, maybe it was the moderate morning temperature outside, maybe it was the shoes I decided to wear. Whatever it was, it was working in my favor. To give you a visual, it was like I was Grace Kelly, pink flowing scarf and immaculate white gloves, driving endlessly in a convertible (although, I am Nicole and I drive a Hyundai, but you feel me?).

For no reason in particular, none of the annoyances that had previously erked me were able to get under my skin. And then, the beauty of the morning pushed me towards a realization. 

I want to do more. And I should. I want to see more. And I really should! More sunsets, more mountains, more concerts, more life. I live in a country jam-packed with a plethora of gorgeous sights to see and wonderful people to meet. I'm going to start watching the sun rise in the morning and I'm going to gaze at the stars at night. I'm going to listen to water washing up on a shore, whenever the chance is presented. Maybe, I'll even ride an elephant one day... who knows?!

After this morning, I feel inspired to experience everything beautiful that this world has to offer me. And I'll be damned if I don't!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is the "Launch Party" for a season in the church called Lent, during which we prepare for Easter Sunday, a celebration of God sacrificing his son Jesus, in order for our humanly sins to be forgiven, and that son coming back to us after his death in order to save the world.

Sounds positively wonderful, right? 

Well... unfortunately, when you ask most Catholic's about Lent, the most common response is one of misery and irritability. And it's understandable that some of us feel this way. We are human... we like to have our cake and it, too. We like to take the easy way out of tricky situations. We like luxury. No one instinctually desires to live a life of desolation and poverty, and that's almost what it feels like you are doing when you choose a Lenten promise for yourself. By mid-Lent, many Catholics come to mass, looking like this guy...

Lent has a tendency to make some of us feel raggedy, pained, and dismal. Surprisingly, and to the shock of many, this is the opposite of how you should be portraying yourself during this time. If you read my last post about Lent, you know, I myself, have been guilty of this in the past.

Yes, we should use this time to make sacrifices for the purpose of showing God how much he means to us, however... complaining, griping, and moaning about how miserable you are and how much you are craving chocolate doesn't really show your love to anyone who you are  attempting to make a sacrifice for, much less The Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Though, I'm not big on quoting the bible, simply because it can be difficult for non-bible enthusiasts to understand, I think the message that this verse provides is important to keep in mind during this time of the year.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." - Matthew 6:16-18

It's so easy to lose sight of why we are doing what we are doing during Lent

So... right now, today, in this very moment, I want you to forget what you know and what you think you know about Lent. No, I'm no expert and I've never been to the Vatican, but my gut tells me this... (and like Olivia Pope from Scandal would say, "Trust your gut.")

Lent is a time to begin a new journey. The idea of this journey may have been in the back of your mind, tucked away,  and almost forgotten because you know that as this journey comes to life, you will be faced with many difficult decisions and forks in the road. One path will appear to be easier, more comfortable, and will take you right back to where you started, but the other, which will appear to be more difficult, will lead you to the place where you have the ability to become the best version of yourself.

It doesn't matter if you are Catholic, a follower of Christ, or lost somewhere in translation. We all have burdens that we bare daily, and the thing is, we have the ability to lift them, if we put in the time and effort, and decide to endure the uncomfortableness that comes with making a life change.

Maybe you haven't spoken to your mother in years and you can't even remember the reason why. Maybe you haven't treated a co-worker as nicely as you should because of one negative incident at work. Maybe you have the resources to donate to a local food bank monthly, but instead you treat yourself to a pedicure. Maybe your drug addiction has distanced you from your children. Maybe you haven't visited a friend who is sick in the hospital because it makes you feel uncomfortable and scared. Maybe you need to ask forgiveness or forgive someone from your past. Whatever is keeping the best version of yourself away from your loved ones and those who you surround yourself with... let it go. 

Now is the time. Do something different to make a positive change. Of course, making this conscious decision to leap into the unknown is the scariest decision you will ever make. It's a big risk. But the bigger risk is what you will lose in your relationships, if you don't try. 

I truly believe in the "ripple effect". If you show love and kindness to one person, that love will radiate to more places than you can imagine.

Isn't that what life is about? It's not about you living the way you see fit. It's about living in such a way that you are positively effecting the lives of others. And that is how you show God that you truly care. 

So, as we enter this Lenten season, I encourage you to make a selfless change that will benefit another person's life, because I think that is the kind of sacrifice we are called to make and that change is one we should continue to embrace, even after Lent is through.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Winter needs to get lost

Over the past 4 months...

It snowed and snowed and snowed some more.

I wrecked my brand new car.

And then I wrecked it again.

I fell, and slipped, and scooted, and tumbled.

I lost a glove that I really liked.

I watched every single audio visual segment that has ever been released on Netflix.

I ate and ate and ate some more.

I tried to go for a run, but that's where the slipping, falling, tumbling, and scooting began.

Mean kids laughed at me and my running, slipping, falling, and tumbling.

I developed a nightly case of narcolepsy every evening at 8:30 p.m.

I paid more for my gas bill in one month than the total of all of my gas bills for an entire year.

And I still froze.

I broke two car window scrapers.

I lost my beautiful tan.

... Dear Winter, GET LOST!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Lake

Every summer, my best friends and I take a long weekend trip to a lake house on Middle Bass Island. During the miserable winters and dreary, rainy springs that Ohio is so well known for, I constantly remind myself that this annual trip is right around the corner and I will be relaxing poolside, mimosa in hand with my very best friends (who are more like "soulmates") sooner than I think.

Not to sound snobby, pretentious, or uppity, but these friends are truly some of the most wonderful women I have ever met and the bond that we share is one of the most important and special aspects of my life. Basically, my friends are better than yours.

You know when you watch, "Sex and The City" or "Friends" or "Now and Then" and you think to yourself, "Friendships like that do not exist in real life."? 


Well, I am here today to tell you that they actually do. My group of friends has been inseparable since high school and we have remained close, starting at the time when we were just a group of silly girls and still now, as grown women.

Don't get me wrong, they all drive me absolutely bat shit crazy, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in this whole world.

It's the late night phone calls, catching up on life, love, family, work, heartbreaks; it's the "I'm in town... happy hour... you and me... 30 minutes..."; it's the note and flowers saying "I know today is going to be rough, and I am thinking of you and I am here for you."; and it's the saved spot I know I have in their hearts, and the spot they all have in mine, that makes the friendship we have so irreplaceable. I can count on these girls, day or night and sunshine or rain, to be there for me in any way imaginable, and I would do the same for them without hesitation, in a heartbeat.

I have come home from the lake house with countless hilarious memories; memories that make me laugh so hard I nearly pee my pants when I randomly recall them. 

Kristen getting kick punched by an old, drunk hag. Retracting a dead mouse from the restroom with a golf club. Our late night sober dance parties being secretly filmed. Developing a British accent when talking amongst ourselves. Being chased by ducks in very deep waters. Acquiring the most random pieces of oversized, costume jewelry and bingo hats from complete strangers. Morgan turning into a tomato after being exposed to sunlight for 15 minutes. Bike rides that left us sore for 2 weeks. Capturing tribal hair and salad fingers on film. Going to town on cookie dough logs and apple salad. Maria and Jordann turning into 65 year old gambling addicts upon hearing the word "Keno". Mailey's pirate impressions. Shutting down Frosty's by requesting Jeremih and NSYNC. 

While writing this and recalling these memories, I'm struggling getting any words out and down because I can't hold back the laughter caused by our ridiculousness.

Bottom line, I would like to pay homage to these goofy chicks, let them know how much I appreciate everything they've done for me over the years, and how much I am looking forward to the millions of belly laughs to come. Here's to all future lake trips, hopefully we'll be giggling just as hard with our scooters, walkers, canes, and dentures. I love you all to pieces.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

9 Favorite Scenes

1.) The Sandlot, "You play ball like a GIRL!"

2.) My Best Friend's Wedding, "I've got moves... you've never seen."

3.) The Sound of Music, "I have confidence in confidence alone!"

4.) Sleepless in Seattle, "It was... magic."

5.) Home Alone, "... including in-between my toes and in my belly button."

6.) When Harry Met Sally, "No, you pretty much wanna nail them too."

7.) Ace Ventura, "What happened to him? What happened to me!"

8.) The Proposal, "It takes two to make a thing go ri-ight!"

9.) Good Will Hunting, "How do you like them apples."

Friday, February 28, 2014

What keeps me (mostly) sane.

In a world that's full of radioactive material, serial killers, economic depressions, adulterous relationships, it's no wonder why we all feel like we need a Zoloft at the ending of most days. Actually, come to think of it... the phrase "a hard day's work" really shouldn't be as commonly used as it is. Why is life difficult? Why are we faced with problems daily that seem to have absolutely no easy solution? Well folks, I haven't taken a class on philosophy and I'm not a clinical psychologist, so I can't answer either of those questions for you.  The only advice that I can give you, is to start doing the things in life that make your heart beat a little faster. A pitter-patter, if you will.

Many professionals suggest meditation in times of stress, proclaiming that it brings you back to your life's core purpose and it can help you ground and center your thoughts, realizing what is important and what is not. Personally, silence irritates me. Maybe I still behave like an antsy 5 year old child, but whenever I'm forced into a situation where someone is telling me to envision a clear blue sky, and a whispering wind grazing my bare neck, I start to think about the ants that would inevitably be crawling up my jean shorts, and how the grass that I'm supposed to be sitting in would no doubt cause me to break out in hives.

Meditation? Not for this girl. Not in the sense that most people meditate, anyway.

I always tell people that my worst punishment growing up would be having my music taken away from me.

Though, I can't sing or play any instruments, and I dance like a total white girl, music is such a huge part of my life. It's importance and power was taught to me at very young age, mostly by my father. To this day, whenever I go home to visit my parents, 9 times out of 10, I walk in the door and immediately hear music playing. 

As a kid, my dad would force me to sit down with him and listen to a song, say by John Mellencamp, and afterwords we would talk about the message the song was trying to send the audience, our favorite parts, the best solos, etc. and then we would play the song over and over and over again. It's one of my most fond memories I have with my Dad.

I love the saying, "When words fail, music speaks."

Through tough times, I turn up my music. Through great times, I turn up my music. I love how a song can alleviate worry, alter your mood, or stir up an epiphany within your soul. It's beautiful and incredible when two people can not say a word, but dance and listen to a song, and still be in the same exact state of mind with one another.  I can't get enough of concerts, for they can bring people together and spark a wonderful and powerful elation within an entire atmosphere.

Music is my therapy. It makes me happy and gets me through this hectic, wild life.

So, this is my music appreciation post. Tell me, what's your favorite song? Favorite artist? Favorite genre? Favorite era in music? What do I need to be listening to? What music will make my life a little better?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My 8 Wedding Summer

As some of you know, I have a younger sister who likes to go against the grain. God love her, but it's true, and she will be the first to admit it. She's a rebel with many causes. Always has been, always will be. So... true to form, about a year ago, she came to my family to tell us she and her boyfriend... were engaged... to be married... before me... her older, single, sister.

Well, this wild child kicks off my summer of hell, wait... I mean, my summer of 8 weddings. And while I love and completely adore every single one of my friends and family who have decided to leap into the world of matrimony, I fear for my own mental well being in the months ahead.

"Why?", you ask. "Weddings are a blast.", you say. To which I will respond, "In theory, you are right." But I am certain this theory will be proven wrong, beginning with the conversion of my sister from Miss to Mrs.

I am submitting to the court, Exhibit A, "The life pressures of a young adult."

I remember the stress and anxieties I began to feel in the middle of my Senior year of high school, when family and friends started to inquire about my college plans, dreams, and future aspirations. Being that I am usually a hot mess, and don't normally plan out my next meal until my stomach has been grumbling for a good hour or so, I did not enjoy these interrogations in the slightest form of the word. I am a "one step at a time", "take things day by day" kind of extrovert. The word "plan" and I, do not get along.

I'll admit, I bring entirely too much stress upon myself due to this organizational deficiency, and it's definitely something I am working to improve upon daily (I am proud to say I now carry a pocket planner in my purse and I even check it everyday), however, I do feel that every inch of my life cannot and should not be minimalized and categorized into a minute-by-minute itinerary. I feel that when I try to embrace this "Type A" lifestyle and plans fall apart or chaos ensues or the system breaks down, I have major meltdowns, to which I am ill-equipped to cope.

Of course, I have dreams and hopes for my life, but I've learned that little to nothing in this world is guaranteed, so ya gotta just roll with the punches, for lack of a better cliché.

For some reason, detailed plans are expected of us 20-25 year olds and if we even elude to the fact that we may not have one in effect, a label of social leprosy is stamped upon our foreheads, and we are instantly regarded as someone who needs assistance, requires restructuring, or just needs to get their act together.

So, while I can't wait to celebrate the event of my younger sister entering into a new stage in her life, I am dreading explaining to people why as an older sibling, for now, I'm complacent with where I am in my life. 

Honestly, I feel the reason why so many marriages do not work out nowadays is because of this enormous amount of pressure. Being a 25 year old woman, the pressure is on and steadily persistent from the "accomplished" and "successful" peers to settle down, meet that special person, buy a home, take summer vacations, achieve promotions at work, etc. Of course, all of these things are goals that I eventually want to be able to cross off a list, but if they are not reached within a certain time-frame, many young adults either shamelessly exploit themselves on countless dating websites in attempts to find a half decent suitor or enter into a panic and voluntarily commit themselves to a psychiatric ward.

Shouldn't we be more concerned with the impact we are making on the lives of others and on our community daily? 

It's an idea that I think gets lost somewhere along the way. We are definitely in the age bracket of self-absorption, trying desperately to find our way, but I fear that our connect with the rest of the world is forgotten when we are so concerned with personal gain and benefit. It's a very scary thought.

So, I will speak on the behalf of the girls (and guys) who are in their mid-twenties... be it, they are single and loving it, or in a healthy, loving, un-married, un-cohabitated relationship, or happily working at a job that does not fall under their career field of choice, or hopeful of having children one day but in no rush to get pregnant, or still renting a one-bedroom shanty downtown (and in my personal instance, almost all of the above)... As much as we love you Planning Patricia's and Pete's and have the utmost respect for the decisions you have made for your own life, I will assure you... We are fine. We are happy. And we will figure out the details of our life when we can.

That is all.
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