Outsourcing my Heart

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.56.24 PMA couple of years ago I jokingly told one of my professors that I was going to have to start expanding my boundaries when it came to finding love because my prospects here in the states were starting to get really bleak.

Well, six months ago something happened. I traveled to Iceland as a part of my second study abroad trip, and one night while randomly browsing Tinder with my roommate just to see how different it was from what I’m used to (gun toters and dead fish wielders) because the Midwest is a weird place, I came upon a match. It wasn’t long after we matched that we started to talk and get to know each other, and we both seemed to click really well. The next and last day of our stay in Iceland, my group was scheduled to go to The Blue Lagoon. Suffice to stay I stayed in the hotel to leech their internet so that I could continue to talk to this intriguing stranger, and I don’t even regret it.

This December, during my winter break I did something that I would consider an achievement and traveled to a foreign country on my own: that country being back to Iceland for a week with him. Though it was a short week, it was also one of the best weeks of my life. I met a good portion of his family, ate some traditional Icelandic food, and got to relax for a while. 

Over the duration of this relationship I’ve been sent articles from various friends and family members about the trials and tribulations that come from being in long distance relationships. While he and I have felt most of the items listed in these articles, we have also seemed to overcome most of them, at least for now. Also, there’s this funny thing called technology which allows he and I to have a better relationship than those ten years ago did that were also in LDR’s. 

Later this summer/end of the semester I’m going to Norway to participate in a four week writing course with one of my professors here at school. While I’m there (the boy) will be coming down from Sweden to meet me and take me out for my birthday and even to meet his parents while I’m there. I gotta say, I’m pretty excited for it too.

Later this month he and I will have been together for seven months and have been talking to each other for almost a year. While to most people this isn’t much of an accomplishment, it is one of my greatest accomplishments since I have been single for the past three years up until meeting him and so far it has been the most rewarding relationships that I’ve ever had, even with 3,000+ miles of ocean and some land between us.

So, yeah, I had to look outside of my own country to find love. But it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Fate, Destiny or whatever you want to call it has a funny way of making things work out, especially for those that have started to think that they should probably start collecting cats and yarn balls. 

Advertisements

Roots and Wings

I graduate college next year. I graduate college next year, and honestly I think that I’m a little terrified. I mean, that’s usually the natural response to something like this. Or at least it has been for everyone that I’ve known that’s graduated already. But they eventually picked themselves up and have started to make something out of themselves.

I just hope that transfers to everyone that turns their tassels come graduation day.

The only difference between me and most of them is that while they are laying down roots I’m trying to figure out where my next travel destination will be. There’s so much more of this world that I have yet to and want to see and explore. So, unless I get a job out of college that lets me travel and work at the same time that I actually enjoy than I may be forced to start rooting myself. That would be cool if Missouri was where I wanted to stay all of my life. Which I don’t. I’ve lived here for going on 26 years, and while they’ve been some good years, they haven’t made me want to stay much longer.

A while ago during a late night Facebook conversation. a friend of mine pointed out to me that I was restless. Of course I am. I’ve seen five countries in the span of two weeks and what I saw was very little. Of course my natural inclination right now is to fly rather than fight.

Google.com

A few things that I’ve noticed while I travel is that that big black cloud of depression that likes to hang over me in my daily life seems to dissipate and the straight jacket of anxiety tends to loosen up its hold. So, obviously I’m doing something right. Right?

However…..

I have this nagging feeling deep inside that I want to lay down some roots or something. I think what it is is my desire to want to take care of something and in turn be taken care of.

While I’m quite fond of being the independent woman that I am (I think I am), I have also been single for going on four years now. I realize that that’s not a lot of time compared to some people. For example, my mom; she’s been single/divorced for almost eight years now and she seems to be doing pretty well. But there are days when I know that she would do anything to have someone by her side to help carry some of the weight of her stressful life. For that I don’t blame her either. If anything, I want her (and my brothers by proxy) to be happy.

I come from a family of tough, driven and stubborn women so it could be years before I reach whatever it is I really want out of life. So for now I’ll just have to work at chipping away at this shell that I’ve built up around myself by myself.

On Wanderlust..

A few days ago I posted a status on Facebook posing a very simple question, “When are you at your most happiest?” The responses began to pour in shortly after and some of them were fairly predictable becaScreen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.04.00 AMuse I’d like to think that I know my friend’s pretty well.

When I initially thought of the question I hadn’t given it a second thought to even answer the question myself. That is until I went to a meeting with my advisor and we briefly discussed our Study Abroad trip to Europe that we went on last May and he brought up how he had noticed how calm I had been throughout the whole trip. That’s when it hit me, I had found my answer to my own question.

I noticed that on my travels my anxiety that usually held me back actually seemed to disappear. I don’t know why or even how, but for some reason getting on my first plane(s) made any and all stress that I may have had previously dissolved. Kind of like the clouds when you get up close to them in an airplane. Even while we were in foreign cities where we couldn’t even read the street signs and had to rely on our wits and minimal wifi coverage to get back to our hotel I seemed to flourish.  Yes, I was still a little nervous and scared, but I wasn’t overcome with crushing anxiety that would have left me in the fetal position in the middle of the sidewalk while passerby looked on in bewilderment.  

Even when I traveled alone to Chicago to stay with a friend last year I was still cool under pressure. So, I guess that I would call that one of my strengths.  I even took a train from one end of town to the other (at night) on my own and made it back to my friend’s house in one piece. So yes, I’m pretty damn fearless these days. 

 

It’s become apparant to me that I am at my most happiest when I am traveling.

 

After a quarter of a century in the same place things start to get a little stale, and I’ve noticed that this has unfortunately been happening a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my fiends, but there’s something inside of me that is practically scratching at my insides to get out. I think that that thing may just be a mix of my wanderlust and need to be somewhere different for awhile.

This summer before I came back to school I got to go to a family cabin in the mountains of Colorado with a bunch of my family members that I don’t see that often. While I was there it was the most relaxing and stress free week of my life. Well, my trip to Europe in May was too, but I wasn’t there that long. I only got to taste crumbs of each place we went to, which is why I’m going back after I graduate college for a vacation/to look for jobs. When I was in Colorado my family and I just relaxed, I mean there was a palpable feeling of relaxation in the air. It could also be from the high altitude or the copious amounts of alcohol that we were all drinking, but either way it was fantastic.

That being said, I need to travel somewhere again. My luggage is starting to look a little lonely in it’s corner.

The Five Things You Learn While Traveling for the First Time, and Alone

1. When you board your first train, plane or automobile that’s going to take you to your destination, no matter what it is, you will probably be full of nerves and excitement. If you’re anything like me the nerves & excitement will have already been simmering for weeks up until your actual trip. This is good. Let the nerves and excitement bubble and simmer under your skin because you can use them later in your trip as stored energy to go explore your new surroundings.

2. Pay attention to your surroundings. There are new people around you everywhere you turn and not all of them will have your best interest in mind. Especially if you look like a tourist. Ya know, a giant camera dangling from your neck and always looking up? Yeah, that’s how you know you’re a tourist. The locals aren’t always so kind once they know this. 

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 6.54.53 PM

3. While exploring your new environment whether it’s in the boroughs of NYC, the frozen tundra of Alaska or the deserts of Arizona, find something that is unique to the  area and make yourself familiar with it. For example, while in Chicago this past week I found a really cute cafe called The Growling Rabbit by my friend’s apartment. So, I did the homework and looked it up online to see what I could possibly be getting myself into, food and price wise. The next day I woke up early and started to head to the cafe and it turned out to be really amazing. The atmosphere was cozy and the employees were as amazing as their menu.

4. Keep a journal. They’re much easier to carry with you than your laptop and it’s always a good excuse to write down small observations of the people around you that you’d rather not make public on a social media website. Keeping a journal on hand also helps you to measure how much you’ve grown throughout the passing of time on your trip.

5. Once you’re home take a step back for a minute, after you’ve recovered from whatever adventure you’ve been on of course, and assess yourself. Are you a little braver than you used to be? A little more fearless about approaching people and trying new things? Does your soul feel like it’s been washed anew? How about your mind? Does your body have a few new bumps and scrapes and tone to your muscles? Yeah, mine did too. These are not bad things at all, friend. In fact, they’re to serve as reminders that you went out and made something happen for yourself and that you enjoyed yourself along way in one form or another.

So dear friends, go forth and seek adventure and The Great Unknown, because they’re out there and they’re just begging to be found by you.

A love letter to Chicago.

Dear Chicago,

Image

In the four short days that I’ve been here you’ve made quite the impression on me. So much so that I shudder at the thought of returning home, though I know that’s what I have to do.

Ever since I’ve been here I’ve felt like a completely different person. I mean, my anxiety is still hanging above me a little bit, but it’s no longer the foreboding dark cloud that it normally tends to be when I’m home. It’s turned from being fearful of being alone to not being able to get back to my friend’s apartment and navigating the trains. Those pale in comparison to the anxiety that felt like it was literally melting off of me on the train here.

Though it’s a little early for me to say this with confidence I’m pretty sure that traveling (especially solo) is doing wonders for my mind, body and soul.

Since I’ve been here I’ve done more walking than I have in a long time. Which is sad, since I walk around my school’s campus and to work everyday but I think the air is cleaner and brisker here so it fills my lungs and happiness is left in it’s place. Not only that, but my legs are gaining their definition and tone back, which is always a good thing. I’ve also never slept harder. My body is too tired from traversing the city for my insomnia to even have a chance at creeping up and making my night sleepless.

Also, since I’ve been here I’ve written more in my journal than I usually did while at school. Probably because my entries at school were uber-depressing and I was lonely and bored. However, if you read my entries from the past two months up until now you would think that they were written by two different authors. Thank you for that, Chicago. I am forever in your debt.

One final thing that I’ve fallen in love with in this city so far is how genuinely nice the people are here. Sure there are some jerks, but those are everywhere. I just have yet to encounter any so far in my trip and I hope that trend continues for the remainder of my stay here.

Also, in exactly two months I leave on my first airplane ride to Europe to present research in Athens, Greece. Hopefully that trip does just as much for me mentally and physically as this one is doing. Something inside me says that it will be just fine and that I’m continuing to over think things a little bit.

With a mere three and a half days left here I intend to suck the marrow out of this experience and just let anything that’s bothering me about, well anything, go into the infamous winds of Chicago.

P.S.  My desire to move here one day has won out over my hometown of Kansas City and the wonderful agency of DEG Digital. Sorry Kansas City.

P.P. S. Only two and half more years or so and I shall return with a one-way ticket instead of a round-trip ticket.

Love always,

Nicole

A Tale of Two Cities and the Futures They Hold

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 2.16.08 PM

Have you ever had two people fighting over you for your affections etc.? Well this is kind of what this feels like, but, like, with geographical locations.

This weekend is the weekend that I thought would

never come. It’s the weekend that I finally start to spread my wings and travel to a place that is completely foreign to me, and all on my own. Well, not entirely on my own since my friend is going to be my host for the next week and is going to show me around the wonderful city of Chicago.

My original plans were to go to the Windy City to job search for the future, but my prof

essor with a legit contact was unreachable for this entire past week. So, that’s out. While this is a little bit heartbreaking on my side, it’s also not a terrible thing because this trip just became strictly for pleasure.

In my noble pursuit of looking for a job, even though I still have at least two years left of schooling left since I decided to minor in Sociology I got the chance to go to a real life PR/marketing agency this last week with one of my classes. Said class is my Public Relations Practices class, which is also the class that is allowing me and my classmates to travel abroad to present various research projects in Athens, Greece and Italy and a few other places for a credit and a resume builder.

To say that this place, DEG Digital, is not what we thought it would be would be the understatement of

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 2.18.21 PM

the year. I think that all of pre-conceived notions of my classmates and I was seriously tipped on its head once we walked into the actual office. The building itself that it’s housed in was the most intimidating part of the whole experience since it’s in a giant corporate part of town. We all instantly fell in love with it. As the tour guide took us into th

e meeting/welcoming room we all stared at once another in complete and utter disbelief that such

a place could exist.

I should also tell you that DEG is in one of my least favorite places in the Kansas City area because of terrible past experiences from people that live there. I digress, this trip to their offices were definitely the game changer in my entire thought process of this town.

So tomorrow and next week in Chicago, the city and everything I do there is going to have to do it’s best to try to win me over so that one day I will want to live and work there. It has some pretty stiff competition now since I’ve had the tour at DEG and I have always been pretty adamant about wanting to get out of a state that I’ve l

 ived in for the past 25 years of my life.

So to you, Chicago, I dare you to make me fall in love with you.

“Dare to expand your horizons.”

Charlie Stewart: “My parents say my future is right on the horizon.”

Connie Baker: “Tell them the horizon is an imaginary line that recedes as you approach it.” – Mona Lisa Smile

Image

For the first time in my life my spending habits over the past month have revolved around nothing but traveling expenses.

This was not an accident. In fact, it was the most blissful I’ve ever been spending money because I’m finally doing something that my dad hammered into my head when I was younger, and that is to always look for ways to expand my horizons,

“If you aren’t expanding your horizons than you’re not doing anything worthwhile with that magnificent thing between your ears that God gave you Dare to expand your horizons.”

In two weeks time I’m taking a giant leap into what I would call the unknown because any traveling that I’ve ever done in my life was with family and they were usually road trips to dusty, smelly racetracks in podunk towns or to a family cabin in Colorado. However, this trip, which is spring break for me I am going to be going to Chicago.

I know, I know. Why Chicago during spring break? Shouldn’t I be going to somewhere like Florida or California or somewhere that’s actually sunny and warm and not like cold and balmy? To that I say, sure I’d go to those places if I had the money to go and a place to stay, but I don’t. Instead I’m heading due north for several reasons; to get out of Missouri and get a change of environment (for once in the three years that I’ve been at school), to go to PR firms and publishing companies  in the city to put my name in their ear because I want to work in that industry after I graduate, and to broaden my horizons and soak up as many experiences as I can in the span of a week.

Ever since my dad passed away in 2010 I’ve been aggressively trying to expand my horizons in his honor. It started out with applying to and getting into my school and then by finding a perfect program that I’m excelling at and where my professors have high hopes for my future. However,  the icing on the top of this cake is my most recent travel plans from taking my first train ride to Chicago all the way to applying for a passport and going on the trip that I wrote about earlier in the year which will pack in experiences such as riding in my first plane(s), seeing the ocean and visiting several countries including meeting the president of one and all along side 25-28 of some of my favorite people.

Sometimes my anticipation for all of these wonderful experiences that are within my line of vision feel like they’re about to tear me apart because they can’t get here fast enough, but another reminder of my dad’s comes to mind when that happens and that’s too just relax and enjoy the day/s in front of you because they’re all you have.