These Are a Few of my Favorite Things (Summer Edition)

Hello? Is this thing on??

Hi friends,

I haven’t written in nearly a month, so I thought I’d just write a little something while I have some time to kill. This summer’s been cool so far. I’ve just been chilling with family and friends, catching up on my Netflix queue, eating at all my favorite hometown spots, and living as a working woman.

But…. I thought I’d share some of my favorite things this summer. Feel free to check some of them out and tell me what you think 🙂 Or even better, comment any movie/music/book suggestions. 

What I’m Watching:

  • Master of None (season 2): I fell in love with Master of None’s first season back in 2015 and I’ve been a fan of the series ever since! I love Aziz Ansari’s comedic style and I was drawn to his stand up comedy and role as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. It’s been cool to see him star is his own series. It’s been great to see him in a role that’s drastically different from Tom Haverford and to see him in his element. Master of None is (in my humble opinion) one of the best shows out there right now. The cinematography, representation (i.e. watch the “New York, I Love You” episode), music, humor, and honesty are refreshing. The characters are real and easy to connection with. I missed having Master of None in my life, so I binge watched season 2 in a day, so I’m impatiently awaiting season 3.
  • I Am Not Your Negro: Shoutout to my friend Morgan for letting me use her Prime Account 🙂

What I’m Listening To:

  • SZA’s new album, Cntrl: I was a little late in discovering SZA’s music, but man am I so glad I did. SZA’s music just exudes confidence, authenticity, originality, and it’s so refreshing to see female artists who hold nothing back and don’t fit the music industry’s mold for them. SZA’s also the only female artist on Top Dawg Entertainment’s label- the same label Kung Fu Kenny is signed to!
    It’s such a smooth album to put on and absorb every detail in the lyricism and production. I’ve been listening to it more times than I can remember.
  • Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama: Lorde is one of my all time favorite artists. It’s been a long time coming waiting for her follow up album, but I’m so glad it’s here. I’m slowly digesting the album still and figuring out what songs I like and which ones I’m not particularly fond of, but Lorde somehow perfectly captures what it means to be coming of age, falling in out of love with someone, and falling in and out of love with yourself.
    Also… I’ll have to pick Pure Heroine over her new album. There’s something untouchable about that album for me.
  • Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut album: Dua Lipa is having her moment in the U.S. finally and I’m so excited for more people to discover her music. If you’re not into pop music, then you might not be too interested, but I suggest giving it a listen. I was first introduced to her when she opened at the Troye Sivan concert last year. When I got back home after the concert, I looked up her music on Spotify and I’ve been jamming ever since.
    —- I’m looking forward to Haim’s sophomore album next month, Foster the People’s third album (date: TBD), and I’m excited to check out 2Chainz new album.

    What I’m Reading: 

  • * I planned to read a book a week and that hasn’t happened yet, but… I have a list that I’m slowly making my way through. Up Next: Full Frontal Feminism per my sister’s bookshelf.

    What I’m Wearing:

  • I’ll be honest for a second. I feel as though I’m slowly losing my fashion sense. I went shopping the other day in one of my favorite stores and nothing really caught my eye, but I am into the bandana neck scarf trend at the moment. I’ve always been a fan of rocking a bandana because they’re so versatile- they make great headbands, look great tied around your neck, and are trendy as neck ties right now.

    So if you cared about any of my favorite summery things or not, thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far!

    happy (almost) summer,

    nicole

    🙂

 

Challenge Accepted

Life isn’t easy.
I think that’s a truth we all understand and experience in our lives.
We all face our own battles, obstacles, and just plain bad days every once in a while. Some of us are constantly experiencing adversity while some of us may have some time to breathe in between life’s opposition.

Sure, our trials don’t all look the same. Some of us have more privilege than other people, but I certainly believe that life has tested each and every one of us.

However…. I believe it’s not about what you’ve gone through, but your response to what you’ve gone through that matters.

I’d say I’m an optimist by nature. I’m the person who tends to view the metaphorical glass half full. The person who usually wakes up on the right side of the bed.

It hasn’t been easy to remain this positive for nearly twenty years, but I’ve met some inspiring people along the way whose wisdom I’ve adopted in own my life. Here’s some of the things they’ve taught me:

  • “It’s only considered failure if you give up. If you eventually accomplish the goal, then you’ve still succeeded.”
  • “It’s not about waiting for something to happen. It’s about your attitude while waiting.”
  • “Sometimes we ask life/God to give us more patience/faith/trust, but sometimes instead of just getting those things, God chooses to give us circumstances that teach us to have those things.”
  • “Progress is not linear”
  • “Since change scares you, try not to focus on the idea that things are changing. Instead, just embrace the slow transition of life.”

A few months ago, I saw a tweet Chance the Rapper re-tweeted from his manager, Patrick Corcoran, that perfectly sums up my thoughts on challenges:

IMG_7995

I think the most important thing I’ve learned in 2017 so far is to embrace authenticity and vulnerability. You don’t have all the answers. It’s okay none of us do, so we should just present ourselves as the raw, works in progress that we are. It makes facing life so much easier and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot more from the people around you.

You can better love yourself and others by choosing joy in the face of adversity. I love the quote that says “Just when you think you’ve been buried, you’ve been planted.” Use this planting time to learn and grow because great things are on the way 🙂

 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the thief of joy. We’re not meant to covet the lives of other people but instead learn to love and celebrate our own life. Life is sweeter when we learn to appreciate what God has for us and only us and use our blessings to glorify His name.

It’s so easy to look at others and want what they have. It might be the new job promotion they just received, their picture perfect family, their good looks, their new car, etc…. the list goes on and on. We may not live everyday thinking these thoughts, but I believe many of us have days when we want what others have and question God for not giving us what they have.

Social media gives us easy access into the worlds of other people. We’re able to see all their accomplishments and blessings almost as soon as they’ve received and achieved them. We begin first admiring their lives then that admiration (if we’re not careful) can soon turn into jealously. We begin wanting what they posses and soon after the jealousy we begin feeling bad about our own lives or ourselves. It’s a dangerous game to play.

It’s dangerous because we’re comparing someone’s highlight reel to our behind the scenes. I struggle with this from time to time. I’ll be honest and admit that truth. It’s an area of my life that I have been working on improving.

Once I realized that we all have our own battles we face, I realized that social media was creating an illusion of a perfect life. I may see someone at their best, but I have not seen them at their worst. We all have our behind the scenes moments. Our not so pretty moments. Our moments when we’re at our lowest.

I think it’s important to focus on our own highs and lows instead of focusing on other people’s journeys. Instead of competing with other people, we can focus on competing with other versions of ourselves. I can work to become a better “me” than I was the day before. A better student, a better daughter, a better friend, sister, etc. Our own journey and transformation into becoming who God has called us to be is all that truly matters. We should set goals for ourselves to make ourselves proud not to make other people jealous.

Learning this sooner rather than later will save you so much heartache and will help you not feel inadequate.

The reason I titled this post “Comparison is the Thief of Joy” is because we often miss out on living our life to its fullest potential because we choose to focus on what we don’t have. We choose to focus on how we measure up to other people. We may be happy and satisfied with our own lives, but if we’re not confident and content in what we have, that joy can easily be swayed when we begin comparing ourselves to other people.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that what God has for me is for me only. I can admire other people’s intelligence, beauty, career, relationships, etc without questioning or diminishing the value of my own. I can say “wow, they’re great” and recognize my own greatness, too.

I think a way to eliminate this problem in society is to realize that life is not meant to be a competition with other people.

I challenge anyone reading this to write out a list of things you love about yourself, a list of the ways God has worked in your life, and a list of ways that you want to improve yourself. Focus and reflect on that list.

Spend so much time focusing on the positives that you won’t have time for comparison and envy.

It’s a process, but I guarantee it will be worth it.

oh, and before I go: Life’s timeline doesn’t look the same for everyone. We’re all meant to do things in our own pace and at our own stages in life. Life wouldn’t be nearly as fun or interesting if we’re all completing the same steps at the same time.
If it takes you an extra few years to earn your degree, congratulations!
If you don’t want kids or want to wait later in life to have kids or get married, congratulations!
Life’s your own journey and we’re all just along for the ride.

Until next time,

Nicole 🙂

10 min thoughts

“it’s almost friday” i remind myself every week…. the thought of the weekend gets me through the week.

instead, let’s live for every day. every day can be friday if you want it to be (seriously).

life’s not meant to be survived. it’s meant to be lived.

find what that looks like for you.

i was joking with a friend and we joked about how we schedule everything in our day except when we sleep basically.

that started to make me uncomfortable, so instead i’m scheduling what i can and not pushing myself.

treat yourself. rest before you are tired.

sometimes i take mental health days and  take a break from my responsibilities and instead plan what my week will look like, call a friend and catch up, or watch a movie.

pomodoro technique has become my best friend in college: set a timer for 25 mins, take a break for 5 mins, repeat 3 more times, and after the 4th 25-minute period, you can take a 20+ minute break.

i’m also in this place of reflecting on this quote i read: “we’re letting things that don’t matter take priority over things that do”

^ reflect on that, if unproductive energy needs to be removed from your life then by all means (for yourself), cut back on some things.

i figured while i wait for this bus on campus- i could type some thoughts.

happy thursday!

-nicole

 

 

monday musings

I didn’t have a specific theme for this week’s post, but I knew I wanted to share a bit of my thoughts and spread some truth and positivity today.

*in no particular order*

1. It’s okay to be yourself. I recently added that little mantra to my blog because I’ve always supported and admired authenticity. For years I struggled with the need to be liked by everyone and I often felt that I did something wrong when someone didn’t like me. I learned that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be comfortable in who you are as a person and comfortably exist in who you are.

2. Lean on the people you love. For the longest time, I tried to appear to have it all together and I wanted to be the one other people came to with their problems. I didn’t want to unload my problems onto anyone else. I finally realized how self-destructive that mentality was and I have become more intentional when I ask people how they are doing and I hesitate to say “I’m fine” when they ask me. I am learning to be honest and lean on the people I love for support.
Next time you ask someone how they are doing take time to actually listen to their response.
Text your friends and check on them every now and then. It means a lot. Make time for the people in your life… especially your parents and older relatives. You can learn a lot.

3. Take care of yourself. Your body is your home. It’s been with you since the beginning. Treat it with kindness. I don’t always eat the healthiest, but I am learning to take care of myself. I’m learning to eat healthier but still enjoy the food I eat now. We shouldn’t punish ourselves. Find some form of exercise (if you are physically able to) that you enjoy. It could be walking, playing tennis, dancing, etc. You’ll thank yourself later.

4. Learn for the sake of learning. I know school is tough for most of us. I’m not a huge fan of it these days. I’m constantly tired. But I realized it was the work that makes me dread school. I do enjoy learning though. I enjoy most of the content I just don’t enjoy drowning in deadlines. I enjoy learning new things. Knowledge is valuable and important.

Make learning fun! Watch game shows and learn cool facts. Read, read, read. Listen to others more. A quote I found says that when people talk they are repeating things they already know, but when people listen that’s when the learning takes place.

5. Believe in something…. and stand up for your beliefs. Whether you decide to follow a religion or you chose not to- find what you believe. I believe you shouldn’t let anyone decide that for you. It’s more genuine and meaningful when you have those epiphanies on your own. Find what you’re passionate about. Whether you’re super into politics or you couldn’t care less, figure out what do care about. Learn and grow in those identities. As we grow, we may even change some of our identities as we learn from the people around us. Remember to always stay tolerant and open minded on your journey.

Also, fight for what’s right. Fight for everyone to have safety, equality, and equity in this world (in whatever way that means for you). Don’t stand for the mistreatment of any human being. Stay woke. Stay updated on what’s going on in the world around you.

6. Don’t go chasing love. It will find you every time I promise. I am a firm believer that people are placed in your life for a reason. I do believe that you will meet your ‘person’ someday. It’s important to get to know yourself and figure out what you want and refuse to settle for anything less. Once I realized I’d rather be alone than ever settle for anything less than I deserved, I began finding comfort in being on my own.
Sometimes the greatest love is the love we receive from our family and friends. Don’t forget to appreciate their love while you’re looking your soulmate.

7. Do what makes you happy and no one else.  It’s sad to say but I mostly get negative reactions when I tell people that I plan to teach for a living. I get kind words and encouragement too don’t get me wrong. However, I mostly get told to prepare to: live on a small salary, be underappreciated, and have kids wear my patience thin. But I don’t mind it. My heart is full and my face still lights up when I work with children. I always knew it’s what I wanted to do. I used to teach my stuffed animals in my room. I used to brainstorm lesson plans I’d someday use in my classroom. I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to teach young people and I can’t wait to get started.

8. “Do it Afraid”-Joyce Meyer. I’ve learned to be fearless. I’m still working on it, but I believe taking a small leap is the first step. Moving to Athens to go UGA was something I did afraid. I was scared to leave my close friends and family behind. I was nervous to be a black woman on a predominantly white campus- “what if people aren’t nice of me?” “what if i feel like I don’t belong on UGA’s campus?” were some thoughts that played on repeat in my mind. Going away for college excited a lot of people and it excited me too, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified. That’s mostly why I decided to come here. I wanted to push myself because growth happens when we push ourselves. Growth happens when we defy even our own expectations.
Writing on this blog is also something I do afraid. I was nervous to share my first post. I try to write with a layer of vulnerability. I want you to feel as though you know me (or at least parts of me) through my writing. That’s a very scary thing to do because I’m subjecting myself to criticism, but I am also sharing my passion with the world. I learned that agreeing to try something is the hardest part. It’s all downhill from there.

9. Forgive others and love them unconditionally. That expression “hurt people hurt people” holds so much truth. When you neglect to forgive someone, you’re holding on to pain, anger, bitterness, and all those negative feelings. It takes maturity and courage to forgive someone when they’ve hurt you. It’s easier said than done, but you’ll thank yourself for it later. We’re not perfect. We all fall short. I’ve learned to forgive the people in my life when they hurt me (intentionally or intentionally).

10. Show that same grace you give others to yourself. The scariest realization for me was realizing that I was my own worst enemy. I was constantly aiming for perfection and getting upset when I made a mistake. I found that forgiving others was easy, but forgiving myself was difficult. I struggled to accept myself flaws and all. I’m learning to give myself grace. I’ve learned to appreciate the journey towards the woman I want to become. I’ve learned to accept being a work in progress and know that I can love myself during the process. I’m learning to be my biggest fan. I’m learning that progress is not linear. Progress has ups, downs, zigzags. As long as we get from point a to point b, that’s all that matters right?

11. Love yourself + love others + love life. I’ve learned to stop apologizing for who I am. I’ve learned to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once I began loving myself, I inevitably learned to love others better. I learned to love with intention. I appreciate the amazing people in my life for who they are. I’m using my journey to inspire and help other people. It’s uncomfortable talking about my insecurities, but if anything, I want to thank anyone who’s ever called me fat, ugly, annoying, awkward, etc. A year ago I wouldn’t have even addressed that, but today those words don’t bother me. They made me realize just how much I needed to love myself more than ever. Life is bigger. God is bigger. Life is too beautiful for this whole self-loathing thing guys. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission!
It’s a long journey to get to this point but I promise you it will all make sense one day.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with this. This whole blog thing in general really. My writing is always a bit of a long read.

It’s been fun and I’ll be here for as long as you’ll have me!

Happy Monday. You’re all awesome and beautiful people.

Use today to reflect on a list of your own lessons you’ve learned.

until next time,

Nicole 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

socializin’

It’s been a month since I’ve last written, so hello Internet! 🙂

It’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love the idea of social media and the opportunities it gives me to connect with the world around me. I love getting to see what my friends are doing whether they are in the same town as me or they are hundreds of miles away. However, I can also admit that I am a bit addicted to social media.

I found myself spending entirely too much time scrolling through Twitter or watching my friends’ stories on Snapchat. I began realizing my attachment to social media about a year ago and it began making me feel uncomfortable. However, I didn’t really change how I used social media.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to change the way I viewed social media and also limit my use of social media. It’s been challenging and I am still getting in the groove of working on my addiction!

“So, why do you have issues with social media, Nicole?”

1. Dependency

Simply put: I’ve become dependent on social media. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I immediately grab my phone and check all my social media accounts. It’s become a mindless routine for me. I’ll even scroll through Twitter, close the app, forget I just checked twitter, and check Twitter again five minutes later. Scary right?

I tend to find myself picking up my phone to avoid awkward social situations. If I’m with a group of people I don’t know very well or having a conversation that has reached a standstill, I’ll pick up my phone and scroll aimlessly. It’s become a crutch for many of us in social settings.

I feel the first sign of boredom and I immediately look to the world of social media for entertainment.

2. Validation

Our need for instant validation through social media is the main reason social media began making me uncomfortable. I realized I was looking to my followers for validation whether it was through likes, retweets, comments, or the number of followers I have.
Once I realized my own need for validation, it became more obvious to me when other people on social media were looking to others for validation, too.

What I mean specifically is: feeling validated because you got a bunch of likes on a picture you posted or feeling validated by the number of followers you have.

Once I began college, I started frequently posting my accomplishments (mostly on Facebook) as a way to keep my large family updated! It felt good having many people congratulate me on my good news. It feel good being rooted for and supported. Yet, I began feeling very arrogant. I began feeling that I wasn’t humble. I began feeling that I was bragging on all my success and not giving God the glory He rightfully deserved.

I started reevaluating the way I presented my accomplishments. I now ask myself: “Is this to update people who have been on my journey and also to give glory to God?” or “Is this to pat myself on the back and make myself look good?” If my answer is yes to the latter, I opt out of posting whatever the accomplishment may be. I’m choosing to text or call people personally and share big news instead of immediately feeling the need to tell the world.

As I grow more confident in the woman I am becoming the less inclined I feel to post things on social media for compliments or validation from others. 

3. FOMO (fear of missing out)

This one’s probably up there with validation for me. Snapchat specifically comes to mind when I think of FOMO from social media. Snapchat stories allow us to post these cute videos updating our friends on what cool things we’re doing! I enjoy watching other people’s stories on Snapchat more than I enjoy posting my own. Snapchat stories have a way of inviting me into the moment as if I am really there. It’s a more personal experience than any other social media platform.

However, I often find myself experiencing FOMO. It usually happens when I’m having a quiet night in and I check Snapchat and see some of my friends hanging out together seeming to be having a lot of fun (… without me)! I start to wish I was there too and I begin feeling sad that I’m alone when I was just fine chilling at home before I got on Snapchat.

It’s a dangerous game to play.

4. “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel”

Social media gives us the chance to give our friends and family (and even strangers) a glimpse into our lives! It truly is our very own highlight reel. We only post the good parts of our lives. The monumental moments. The achievements. The good hair days. The “instaworthy”outfits. The amazing vacation photos. The fun night downtown.

We begin comparing ourselves to the people we see on Instagram. We find ourselves wishing we were as photogenic as them or living their cool lives. We all find ourselves falling into the comparison trap every now and then.

My wake up call  was realizing that I only feel the need to compare myself to others when I’m looking at social media. Something about social media gives this added illusion that we live perfect and beautifully candid lives. We all know that’s far from the truth.

We don’t see people’s vulnerable moments. We don’t see their “behind the scenes”. We’re giving these often false images of who we really are.

I think that’s the cool part of social media- choosing what we want to share with others.
I just think it’s important to remember that no one’s lives are as perfect as they seem when we scroll through social media.  We’ve got to practice self care when scrolling.

“We’re putting on a face that we want people to see but it isn’t necessarily the honest face of who we are and we’re basing our self-worth on how many retweets we get, how many likes we get, how many followers we have, how many friends we have, and for me: social media and the way we interact and what we prioritize in culture is really fascinating to me right now”- Mark Foster, Foster the People

5. It’s just unhealthy

I love social media and plan to continue using it (in moderation). I think we all need to alter our own use of it to create a healthier relationship with social media.

I personally find that I began checking my phone when I was hanging out with my family and friends. It’s rude. There’s no denying that. I am working to avoid having my phone out when I’m hanging out with other people.

I also try to spend less time staring at screens. Whether it’s for school, for work, or for leisure, I spend 80% of my day staring at a screen. Okay honestly about 90% of my day staring at a screen. I know that’s not good for my eyes, so I’m trying to take a break from staring at screens every once in a while.

Also: I have the worst sleeping habits. I’m a night owl by nature, but an early bird due to class. I find it hard to wind down for bed because my mind is always still wired and wanting to read something, write something, or check social media. I’m working to combat this by not using my phone an hour or so before I plan on going to sleep.
*I’m still failing at this one, but working on it*

I want to spend more time experiencing the world around me and finding other things to fill my time.

I recently “unplugged” for an entire day and it was awesome. I turned off all my notifications for social media, deleted or hid some of the apps, and didn’t check them all day. There were times when I found myself wanting to check them out of habit, but I survived. I felt great not feeling tied down to social media. I felt more productive. I felt less FOMO because I couldn’t care what my friends were doing because I had zero clue what they were doing.

I’m currently thinking of other ways to redefine my use of social media, such as, limiting my use to once a day or taking an unplugged day once a week.

I hope this gets you thinking on your use of social media and its role in your life. It may be playing a bigger role than you think.

until next time,

nicole

unapologetically black

Hey y’all :)) this is my first post that is getting sent to my subscribers’ emails so that’s kinda exciting!

When I first created this space, I didn’t even know what I would write about. I just knew I wanted to share my thoughts and have my voice heard. I didn’t want to speak over anyone. I didn’t want to appear to have all the answers.

Instead, I’m here to speak out on issues that matter. I’m here to spread positivity, knowledge, and love.Sometimes it seems that doing something positive is more exhausting than rewarding, but I would not have it any other way.

   Something that’s been on my mind heavily lately is my identity as a black woman. My identity as a black woman has been challenged, broadened, strengthened, and has grown over the past year. I wanted to share a piece of my journey with you all and what it means to be a black woman to me in 2017.

i. OREO

Ah, yes I’m sure many millennials are familiar with this term. To those of you who are unfamiliar with this term it refers to someone who is “black on the outside but white on the inside.” Growing up, I mostly had white friends and some of them would throw this term around in casual conversation. They would tell me I didn’t “act black” or that I was an oreo. I could never quite understand why it bothered me originally. The more it happened and the older I’d gotten I realized why. I realized it was because I wasn’t allowed to be authentic. I wasn’t allowed to be me because that defied what they knew a black person to be. Their definitions of black people were built on stereotypes. This oreo comment was a microagression. Many of my classmates associated a black person with sass, anger, speaking a certain way, acting a certain way, and dressing a certain way.

I was in an uncomfortable position growing up concerning my identity. I loved alternative music but I also loved rap music. I felt that I was too black for my white friends and that I was also too white for my black friends. I struggled with this for most of middle and high school.

However, the problem wasn’t just with music. It was feeling that I couldn’t embrace who I was- all parts of who I was: my voice, my fashion choices, my music tastes, etc. without being questioned on my blackness.

Finally, I accepted that I just never will fit into a box. I don’t have to act a certain way to fit society’s expectations of me. I can listen to bands like Vampire Weekend without having my “black card” revoked. I can continue talking as I’ve always talked without fear of being told I talked “white”. I wasn’t aware all white people talked the same. What a concept.

ii.  discomfort

Another feeling I experience as a black woman is discomfort. I feel discomfort when I am the only black woman or black person in a space. I feel discomfort watching non-black people comfortably use racial slurs.

I feel discomfort when I don’t see representations of myself in the media. I remember subscribing to Seventeen Magazine when I was in middle school. I was so happy to have Seventeen sent to my house every month. However, I soon realized that most of the girls in the magazine were white. There was little diversity. I remember their attempts to be inclusive. They’d have an “African American beauty” section which was about only five pages in a 70+ page spread. I got the message. The magazine wasn’t originally created for girls like me. I eventually cancelled my subscription because I felt I excluded from one of the leading American magazines for preteens.

I’ve felt a lot of discomfort (sometimes on a daily basis) these past nineteen years as a black woman, but thankfully many people are still pioneering and changing the game.

I am so thankful for artists such as Issa Rae. Her humor and approach to the portrayal of being an awkward black girl appealed to my high school self. I loved her Youtube show “The Mis-Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl” and I am so proud that she has her own show (Insecure) on HBO now. Janelle Monae’s music also helped shape me into the woman I am today. She encourages me to be an “electric lady”. If you follow me on Instagram, that’s why I have a lightning bolt next to my name. Just a small reminder. Being an electric lady means defying labels, remaining authentic, and embracing your blackness.

iii. “What if America loved black people as much as they love black culture?”-Amandla Stenberg

Black culture. It’s everywhere. Seriously. Ju Ju on that beat. NaeNae. Dabbing. Rap music. Slang words. Black people have contributed a lot to pop culture over the years. From dance crazes to music to fashion.

I think the most interesting thing has been the fashion industry’s treatment of black women. Many magazines will choose to shoot a white woman wearing tan bronzer with her hair in braids, lips drawn on to appear fuller, etc instead of choosing a black woman to be photographed. I’ve noticed the popularity of some hair styles or beauty trends that originated in black communities but they are not given the credit until a white woman makes it “trendy”.

I noticed that people love (idolize even) black celebrities, musicians, athletes, etc., but they seem uncomfortable when those same black icons speak out on their oppression or experiences as a black person. You can’t see these people as objects for your entertainment and forget that they are black people with living breathing stories. 

If you’re going to enjoy black culture, I believe you should be standing alongside us in our battle against systemic oppression. Speak out on privilege, positionality, and just plain injustice you see.

iv. Unapologetically Black

So here I am now. I’ve felt it all. I’ve gone through discomfort growing up as a black woman, but I am choosing to embrace my racial identity. I’ve dealt with blatant racism, micoaggressions, etc. I wish I could’ve told my 12 year old self that I can be anything I want to be. That I can be outspoken without being called sassy or loud. That I can listen to any music I like. That I can speak out on issues concerning me as a black woman. That I can love myself despite what others may think.

     Pro-black is not synonymous with anti-white. Black pride is finding joy simply in being black. It’s about learning to appreciate the beauty of being black. Being black means resilience. It means still fighting when many of the systems in place still work against you. Being black means embracing being different. Embracing your melanin. Embracing your hair. Embracing your features (our noses and lips specifically) when a westernized standard of beauty tells you that you shouldn’t. Being black means remaining hopeful.

I am so thankful for artists like Beyonce, Solange, and Kendrick Lamar who find beauty in the struggle. Their voices inspire and encourage me to keep going. They encourage me to shine. I’m thankful for the black students who paved the way for future students like me to attended Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). I’m thankful for my family who taught me from an early age to work hard. I’m so proud of my family of strong black people who’ve gone on to become doctors, nurses, educators, school administrators, and entrepreneurs.

so where do i go from here?

I’m going to continue learning to embrace my roots. I’m going to continue defying people’s perceptions of what a black woman should be. I’m a musician, I’m a writer, I’m a college student, I’m an amateur yogi, I’m a concert enthusiast, etc.

I will not let society tell me who I will be.

until next time,

Nicole

striving for social justice

*I did not take the featured image*

Ah, social justice. Social justice is a topic that sets my soul on fire, peaks my interest, and motivates me to make a change in this world.

Social justice is a topic that I’m constantly learning more about… almost daily it seems. Social justice is a topic that many of my friends and I spend time discussing. We can go from talking about the latest episode of Jane the Virgin to systemic oppression. I like being able to have these conversations with the people in my life even if we do not always see eye to eye.

I’ll be honest. The main reason I decided to start my blog a few months ago was to have a space to share my thoughts on important and sometimes difficult topics. Whether it’s mental health, self-love, racism, privilege, politics… etc. I wanted to have a place where I could speak out on issues without feeling like I was speaking over anyone or getting into debates with anyone. That’s the least of my intentions. I believe everyone deserves to have a seat at the table and a voice at the table. We do not all have to agree and that’s the beauty of free speech. However, we must also be willing to embrace the discomfort. We must be willing to be called out on our own biases and actions. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to many of us. However, we all had to learn what we know now from somewhere or someone. These experiences help shape our worldview and help us to go out into the world to educate other people and continue educating ourselves.

I recently went on a social justice retreat. I can honestly say my life was changed during this year’s MLK weekend. My perspectives on the world were expanded and challenged. I learned to unpack some of my own privileges as a cis heterosexual middle class woman as well as sharing my experiences with oppression as a black woman.

The weekend consisted of many discussions centered around race, gender identity, religion, privilege, and oppression. 40+ UGA students and I attended this retreat, so I had the opportunity to meet many campus superstars! I met so many people from various social groups and I met some people I would not have otherwise met. It was cool seeing so many groups represent UGA at the retreat. It reminded me that there is diversity on my school’s campus despite it being a predominantly white institution (PWI). Diversity goes beyond race to include a variety of other identities as well. Sometimes what makes us diverse is not always our visible identities.

It was refreshing to have a space to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals and some individuals holding differing opinions for me. We all had a common purpose, however, which was to learn more about social justice and how to improve the social climate of not only our campus but also our nation.

It took me forever to finally sit down and put my thoughts about the retreat on paper and I honestly cannot do the weekend justice with one single blog post. Also, I don’t want to give away any of the activities done during the retreat because I encourage all UGA students to please apply to be a “social justice scholar” and attend next year’s retreat! Please let me know if you have any questions about my personal experience or how to sign up.

Anyways, I just wanted to touch on a few highlights from the retreat and some of the things I learned. I can’t have such an eye-opening weekend and not share a bit of what I learned. That’d be counterproductive. So, I hope you get something out of this post because I definitely took a lot away from the retreat.

“I feel like I have to be ‘the good one'”- a student speaking on being black at a PWI 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with some of my fellow black UGA students during the retreat. I appreciated having a safe space to discuss our thoughts on being black and more importantly being a black student at a PWI. It was interesting to hear other students speak on their experiences and immediately recognize the feeling. I felt affirmed when sharing my experiences with micoaggressions and having others chime in with “oh yeah that happened to me, too!” I felt that my thoughts were valid and I felt that I could share my experiences without fear of being told to stop being so sensitive or to stop playing the race card.

Being a black student at a PWI is certainly an experience that I could spend an entire blog post writing about, but I would rather have a conversation about my experiences if anyone is curious. I am so grateful for my opportunity to attend the University of Georgia don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I’ve met some of the most genuine and authentic people who have helped shape me into the woman I am today. I am grateful for the courses I’ve taken that are preparing me for my future as an educator. However, I will say that I quoted the student above because many black students often feel that we are not seen as anything more than a demographic. We feel that we must work twice as hard to prove our intelligence to our classmates and to our professors. We feel we must speak, act, and look a certain way to be accepted by our peers. And to any students reading this that were/are skeptical of being a racial minority at a college, I say don’t listen to the haters and go for it! You’ll have your moments of discomfort, but you belong there! You can have a voice and you can make your mark. There are several people who love and support you.

“Oppression isn’t on an individual basis, but it is systemic.”

Sometimes, often times really, inequality stems from systemic oppression that’s been in place for several years. We must work to remove these barriers and these systems we all live in to ensure not just equality but equity for all. It’s kinda hard to work against an entire system working against you, ya know? It’s going to take the people. It’s going to the take the voice, the actions, and the resilience of the American people to make a difference and push back against systemic oppression.

Be an accomplice, not an ally”

Sharing posts on Facebook in favor of social justice movements is great way to stand in solidarity for sure. I love sharing Facebook posts or retweeting things that I believe everyone needs to see. However, sometimes it takes more than a post. Sometimes it takes pointing out privileges, racism, sexism, ableism, etc. that you may seem in the workplace, in the classroom, etc. Some people are well-intentioned, but we all often put our foot in our mouths and say things that offend other people. If you notice someone or yourself doing this, I believe it is important to call out what was said or done and to learn from it. It does not have to be done in a hateful, angry, or argumentative way. It can be respectful and civil. I’ve really become unapologetic in speaking up for myself and other marginalized groups of people. Being an ally is great, but I want to help more and I am working to find productive ways to do so.

**One important thing to remember, though, is that social justice activism looks differently for everyone! I am in no way trying to sound ableist in the above statement. I understand we sometimes are not able to physically or mentally fight for the causes we support or stand by and that’s perfectly okay. One important message at the retreat challenged us to look inside ourselves and ask “Am I an ally or an accomplice?” **

“Call people out, but call them back in”

One of our fearless leaders on the retreat and one of my small group facilitators made this excellent statement. It’s important to call people out on things that are offensive and simply not okay. However, we shouldn’t isolate people or guilt them. We shouldn’t make people feel unintelligent for something they may have meant with well-intentions. Instead, it is important to call them back into the conversation. It’s important to educate them on the issue at hand and help them learn. We must remember to give each other grace. We all make mistakes and we are all still learning. I think of it this way: We all had to learn everything we know from somewhere or someone. Remember that everyone else is the same. We also must remember that there is still a lot that we still do not know.

Lastly, let’s remember that social justice is “a process and a goal”

It made my heart smile to see so many Americans out there for the cause this weekend. It makes me happy to see people exercising their first amendment rights and fighting for their brothers and sisters in a beautiful, peaceful, but powerful, profound, and moving way. I seriously wish I’d taken part in a march. While these changes will not happen overnight, I do honestly believe there are good days to come. We must remain resilient in fighting the good fight. We must stand together for all people. I am all for intersectionality. Let’s remember that in calling ourselves feminists that includes anyone who identifies as female regardless of their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, ability, etc. If we fight for ourselves, we must fight for each other as well.

Remember to get these conversations started. Remember to not be afraid to speak your mind on issues that you deeply care about. Remember that we the people have the power to make change. We can, we did, and we will.

Remember also to respect everyone’s opinion. Yes, even those that are different from yours.I avoided posting this for a while because I didn’t want to lose any friends/followers/etc over my opinions, but I realized that I have the right to speak out on social justice just as much as anyone else.

I see several things on social media and hear several things that I do not agree with or understand in my daily life, but I respect it all. I expect the same.

I hope this post was somewhat helpful. It’s truly hard to sum up my thoughts on such a broad, umbrella topic that I am so passionate about.

From the looks of this post’s length, I’m sure there will be more social justice posts to come.

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far.

Lastly, I leave you with:

“The goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.”- Adams, Bell, and Griffin

Until Next Time,

Nicole xo

being still and fearless… and foolish and hungry, too.

Happy New Year!

Things I learned in 2016 (and things I’m still learning in 2017): 

1) stay hungry

By the way, I don’t mean staying hungry in the sense of wanting something to eat, but if that’s how you interpret it, that’s cool too. I’m referencing Steve Jobs’ commencement speech he gave at Stanford University.

Steve Jobs encouraged the crowd of new Stanford graduates to “stay hungry”. He meant staying hungry in pursuit of our dreams. He meant staying relentless in pursuit of our goals. He encouraged us to never stop chasing our dreams even when when we feel we cannot go on. Sometimes we grow complacent. Sometimes things aren’t going our way, so we give up the whole dreaming thing for a bit. However, we must always stay hungry!

I enjoy setting goals- big or small.

Whether I look back over my year’s completed goals or just the day’s, it feels good seeing what I could and did accomplish.

2) stay foolish

I define this as staying lighthearted, carefree, and authentic.

I love the twenty one pilots lyric where he says “I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink, but now I’m insecure and care what people think.”

I believe that as we age we grow more insecure and uncomfortable with ourselves.I wonder why that is… I feel like it should be the opposite. I would think we would realize that the opinion of others mean so little.

I noticed my need for validation from other people and the need for constant affirmation.
I got to the root of the problem and realized that it stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself. I began looking at the good qualities in myself and became my own biggest fan. It’s been a process, but I’ve learned to embrace the fact that none of us are put-together all the time. We are all deeply flawed individuals. I’d rather put more energy into choosing authenticity than choosing the facade of perfection.

I’m learning to laugh at myself when I make mistakes, give myself grace, and to use my mistakes as the opportunity to learn.
I’m learning that it’s okay to fail. I’m learning that it’s okay to ask a million questions. You seem more human that way. After all, we’re not robots.

I’m choosing to do the following this year: laugh more, find the fun in everyday life, and at the end of the day, remember that life is far bigger than any of my problems.

to hear more on staying hungry & foolish:
please watch steve jobs’ speech. it helped shape my worldview honestly.

3) stay fearless

Fearlessness. Some of us have it, some of us wish we had more of it, or some of us live vicariously through people who are fearless. I fall in the second category.

I used to be afraid of every little thing. The main reason I chose to go off to college was because I feared trying new things and I hated having to make new friends. I grew close to the friends I made, so why change my life if it’s going well?

Man, am I glad I took that leap. Going away for school might not be considered a leap to some of you, but it definitely was for me. My mom and sister hadn’t even left yet before I began crying and already missing them.

I thank myself for doing that. I needed that ounce of courage to enter a new season in my life. A season in my life where more things changed than stayed the same.

That was probably my first truly fearless thing I did.

I cherish those times when I surprised myself. I cherish the times when I did something I never thought I had the courage to do.

Big or small. We all have those moments. I put off creating this blog for the longest time because I didn’t want to subject myself to criticism. I didn’t want people to question why I had a blog when there are hundreds that exist already. I didn’t want people to say negative things about my writing because writing in a way shares a bit of myself with you all.

I’ve really enjoyed writing in this space these past few months. I’ve had a few people reach out to me with encouraging words about my blog! So, thank you guys. Your encouragement and positive feedback motivates me to continue this when I almost wanted to stop writing. Seriously. 

4) and last, but certainly not least, be still

Before I say anything on this one, listen to my favorite song, Be Still by The Killers 

I love the message of this song and The Killers, too of course.

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 and the biggest area of my life I’m still working on is stillness.

There are many times when I’m not sure what I’m doing with my life. It’s easy to want all the answers right here and right now. However, life doesn’t quite work that way.

We have to remember that everything will work out as it is intended to.

Sometimes it means not pursuing an opportunity at the moment, so you can direct attention to another priority in your life. Sometimes it means being okay with being single because you can work on yourself, appreciate the good people in your life, and relax in knowing your time will come.

A friend of mine invited me to church with him this past weekend. During the sermon, the preacher said “sometimes we create more problems trying to fix everything” and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we need to just let go and leave it up to God (or karma, or fate, or whatever you find solace in).

I’m working to strengthen my faith and realize that life is a series of battles and blessings as one of my devotions I read pointed out. There’s never one without the other in our lives. Seriously, think about it. There’s always pits and there’s always peaks.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

The Lord will fight for us and we need only to be still. I’m choosing to worry less (or as much as I can).I’m learning that I don’t have to fix everything on my own. Life’s not meant to be lived that way. We’re meant to do what we can and life will meet us where we are.

I hope everyone has an eventful, emotionally satisfying, blessed, adventurous, and fun 2017. I hope it’s full of love.

As we enter new changes in the political climate, remember to fight for your marginalized brothers and sisters. Remember that we can and will continue to make changes and progress in this beautiful nation. The American people and our resilience are part of just what makes this place so great.

Also, remember to embrace people’s differences. I came across a quote recently that says “We don’t have to think the same. We just need to think.”

But let’s not forget the dark areas that need a light shined on them and the work that needs to be done.

And in the words of Barack Obama, “The sun will rise in the morning”.

Until Next Time,

Nicole

2016 in photos

I’m all for nostalgia and having photos or music take me right back to a particular moment. I like remembering who I was with and how I felt.
I love falling in love with a memory. You may not remember that particular event in your daily life, but something seems to always reunite you.. whether it’s a picture you forgot you’d taken or a familiar melody of a song.

Here’s some of my favorite moments of 2016 with some of my favorite people. I can’t help but to feel blessed. Yeah, some things did not go my way this year, but I’ve still got God’s grace, His mercy, and some pretty amazing people in my life.

[I absolutely love capturing life through pictures. It’s probably my second favorite thing in the world behind listening to music.]

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January 2016: Meet Kiera. She’s one of my best friends. I’m so thankful we’ve grown closer through our love for music, IHOP, 80s pop culture, and being sappy, sentimental humans. I remember grabbing breakfast on this morning before I headed back to school since eating at IHOP is a tradition of ours. I gave her a Christmas present which was our friendship book. Kiera started this tradition in 2015. We fill up the book with memories and stories and letters. Then, we pass it on back and forth.

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Jan 2016: Carson’s visit to Athens! I’m so grateful for this friendship that’s full of sarcasm and love. Time seems to play no factor in this friendship of ours.

Feb 2016: So grateful for these two. I am so close to both my mom and my sister and I consider them to be my two best friends. I cherish their visits to Athens whether it’s for a few days or a few hours. We always find some shenanigans to get into 🙂

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just UGA in all her glory.

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Feb 2016: My favorite “dc duo”. Thank you Dakota for introducing me to this hidden gem, watching the sunset with me, and being so easy to talk to.

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Feb 2016“Once you learn someone’s story, you can’t help but love them”  Anyone who follows my Instagram got a Dawg Camp overload these past few months, but I just wanted to show the world how much I love this organization, what it stands for, and the beautiful friendships I made. And also recruit campers. To everyone pictured in this photo, I can’t help but smile looking back at us not knowing what was in store.

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Home Sweet Home

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March 2016: I surprised even myself by getting a tattoo. I went from thinking I’d never get a tattoo to planning to get this one. Shoutout to Adam at Ink 66 for taking me of care when I told him I was a baby when it came to pain. This tattoo carries many memories and emotions in its ink. It’s a reminder of where I used to be, where I want to be, and this gray space I currently reside in. It’s also in my mother’s own handwriting so I don’t think it can get any sweeter than that.

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(photo creds to Kiera on this one)
March 2016:Some friends and I stopped by this fair that’s on the side of the road in Atlanta. We spent way too much money to ride one ride, but we had an amazing day catching up, eating at the Cheesecake Factory, and shopping. It’s not about what you do, but who do you do it with. My sweet friendships constantly remind me of this

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my home away from home, Hill Hall 210

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April 2016: Met these people only seven months before this photo was taken and during those seven months this group became my home. I found people to have American Horror Story viewing parties with and to teach me how to play Cards Against Humanity. I met some genuine people in this group and I couldn’t have asked for better people to get to know during my first year of college. I may be closer to some of you now than others, but I know we’ve found a forever family in each other. Poppin’ Purps, forever.

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April 2016: I got to see one of my favorite bands, Alabama Shakes, in Athens. Brittany Howard and the rest of The Shakes are so underrated. When they create, they create. Their songs make me feel as they feel and this concert exceeded every expectation that I had. I also got to share this amazing night from the third row with some of my favorite people. (and little did i know, i’d get to see them in concert again a few months later)

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2016: the year I began the journey of self-love. so far so good oh and  i wrote a blog post about it 

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June 2016:It may not seem like it, but I have a background in camping, hiking, canoeing (I used to be a girl scout). I really love getting outdoors just as much as I love staying indoors. I had fun revisiting Providence Canyon this summer with some friends. Also, I always look forward to our road trips because I get aux chord privileges 😉 img_26941

summer 2016: Brina and I would wake up early during the week and play some tennis. We’re pretty decent.

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summer 2016: I’ve gotten closer to Margot since we graduated high school which is a blessing because most friends tend to drift after going their separate ways. I’m thankful for you always making time for me when we’re both home, Margot. It means a lot. img_31461

4th of July: One thing I’d change about my college years would be being apart from family.

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july 2016: Celebrating my 19th year of existence. My 19th trip around the sun. I had the best bday this summer. i felt so loved plus i ate mexican food so i really can’t complain. one thing still remains after all these years, i’m still terrible at bowling.

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Georgia the beautiful

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Dawg Camp Discovery 2016: Probably the most fun, emotional, reflective time you can have in three days with a bunch of people who were strangers turned into family. I’m so grateful for this weekend and the friendships I made. It’s truly the place to be.

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August 2016: Moved into my very first apartment. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that adulting is a job in itself. I’ve enjoyed my home away from home and entertaining guests and creating memories in our lil apartment. God is so good.

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August 2016: Waking up early (by my standards at least) to watch the sunrise on a special friend on mine’s 21st birthday. I remember us singing along in the car to “Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1”. I remember Daniella making us coffee she put in tumbler cups for our trip. I remember us sitting around just basking in the beauty of a Georgia morning. I remember struggling to climb the Iron Horse and you guys laughing at how dramatic I was being. I remember Tim making me breakfast and the conversation we had about staying hungry and foolish.

I remember having a great day because it started it off with so much love.

Daniella, I want to give a special shoutout to you. You’ve been nothing but kind and gracious to me since day one. Thank you for making time to check in on me, hang out and just catch up, and for keeping it real. You’re a gem. (i also realized we have zero pictures together)


Sept. 2016: Music Midtown 2016. This was actually my second time going to Piedmont Park for Music Midtown. I love music and I’ve recently developed a love for music festivals. Seeing multiple artists in one weekend, outside, with some of your best friends- what more could you want? Okay, maybe cheaper tickets…that’d be cool.
I think one of my favorite parts of the two days spent at the festival was disconnecting from social media. No one really has cellphone service, but we all don’t mind because we’re enjoying the live music. Don’t worry, your Snapchats will still post to your story when you leave 🙂
I seriously contemplated creating an entire post just on these two days. I’ll sum it up by saying: we danced like no one was watching, sang at the top of our lungs, drank delicious freshly squeezed lemonade ($6 a piece but treat ur self), saw 1/2 of Outkast, stood 20 feet from Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, heard some of our favorite TwentyOne Pilot songs performed live, can check dancing in the rain off our bucketlist now, destroyed our shoes in the rain and mud (R.I.P to my favorite pair of vans and converse- it was a good run), saw Alabama Shakes tear the nonexistent roof off of Piedmont Park, and ended the night by singing along to “Mr Brightside” with The Killers themselves. I hope to make a few more trips to MM festivals in the years to come and I plan to expand my festival resume to Austin City Limits and/or Lollapalooza someday! Here’s to my favorite memory of 2016. 

Nov. 2016: My ATL weekend before Thanksgiving was much needed after I felt like I was drowning in deadlines, assignments, tests, and papers. I went to see Troye Sivan in concert and it was such an a great time.He played all my favorite songs and it was honestly a dream. We also went to the Lenox and ventured into the Church of Scientology for a cultural immersion paper I was writing. We spent some time talking with a member of the church and I gained a lot of knowledge. (I’d be more than happy to send you this 6+ page paper I wrote for my class on my experience that afternoon!)

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lastly, Merry Christmas+ have a happy new year everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and friends. I was reminded of how abundant life is and that there truly is so much to be grateful for. God is at work in my life and I’m looking forward to 2017. I’m excited to write more. I’m excited to share more. I hope you guys have enjoyed my little corner of the Internet as much as I have.

There were way more pictures from this year that i wanted to post, so please hit up my vsco profile: here ya go!

Thank you to all the amazing people who’ve stuck around in 2016. I love you all dearly and would devote a paragraph to each and every one of you on this post if I could. Don’t be a stranger in 2017!

until next time,
nicole 🙂