by Nicole | Feb 17, 2017 | Featured, Friendship, Life, Published, VINAZine
Before the internet, a girl from Indiana couldn’t fathom making friends with someone from California. Or Australia. Or even someone in her city, without leaving the comfort of her home. My goodness, how things have changed.
Over the last decade, we have witnessed technology evolve right before our eyes – it’s bringing us together, from all corners of the globe. And it’s freaking awesome.
I grew up in a very rural area of the Midwest – back then, we relied on making friends in our hometowns or from neighboring schools through sporting events and after school activities. Until we could drive and get jobs outside our small town, our friend circles revolved around who was in our classes or extra curriculars. But when I was thirteen, the internet finally arrived in my area.
I remember chatting online with people in my area then making plans to meet them when our schools played each other in basketball or football. I was able to make friends outside the small circle of people I knew my whole life, and I loved it. It’s true – I was hooked on making friends with strangers through the computer. Some I’d meet in person, and who are important people in my life still. Some I still talk with online, still having never met them in person.
When I was a kid though, I was teased for chatting online with strangers. People in my class thought I was lame for chatting on ICQ or AIM, but I didn’t care. I loved meeting new people, in person or over a computer. Fast-forward (more than) a few years later… it’s now considered normal to find relationships and meet new friends off the internet based on your common interests. YAAS, FINALLY!
Over the years, I’ve formed wonderful relationships with folks I’ve met online. I’ve had deep conversations with people I’ve never seen before in person through forums and social networking websites. I’ve forged lifelong bonds with some amazing women who I see regularly. When Twitter took off, I joined solely to follow my favorite rockstar… but soon found a community of fans that were just like me. We started talking to each other online through 140 characters at a time, then ended up meeting each other at concerts all over the country. During the times we waited for (an insane amount of) hours together to snag a front row spot to see our favorite band perform, we created meaningful friendships with each other. Some of the ladies I met during that time I speak with almost daily, and they are coming to my bridal shower this spring!
With websites like Twitter to find people who are into the same things you are, it’s so easy to make new friends online. And again, it’s freaking awesome – most women know it’s harder to make friends once they have finished their college years, begin professional careers, or start having children.
Our circles naturally shrink when we grow older, but ladies, I’m here to tell you they don’t have to. The internet makes it SO much easier for us to form friendships with people we wouldn’t meet under what we used to consider normal circumstances. Luckily for all of us, the new normal is making friends online. The thirteen year old me is rejoicing and shouting “see, I told you this would take off!”
This post was originally published on the VINAzine. <3
by Nicole | Oct 10, 2016 | Life, Past Blog, Personal, Professional
Oh em gee. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Summer has come and gone – it’s hard to believe it’s nearly Halloween! I’ve been quite busy over the last six months… here are the highlights:
The Geeky Press is becoming quite a thing. We’re doing things. That’s kind of our thing. Ha – but seriously, this is something we (the Partners) always say. It’s really growing and we have a lot of great stuff cooking!
- We’re building a solid community, between our monthly #WritersHack Meetups and our one-day retreats. We have our annual weekend retreat at Bradford Woods coming up (still one spot open, so hey Indianapolis area writers, if you’re interested, drop me a line!), plus monthly events. Check us out on Meetup or visit our website for more!
- We published our first book, Bad Jobs and Bullshit, this past September. BUY IT. It’s awesome.
- We’re planning our next book, which will become a series titled Dear America. We will be putting out a call for submissions at the end of October, so stay tuned for that project!
- Another project is currently in the works, so to find out what that is, you’ll have to stay tuned… but if you’re an Indiana writer (or a writer from Indiana), I can give you a hint: you’ll get to submit your work. That’s all I can say for now!
Let’s see… what else has been going on in my world? Oh yeah – I became an Assistant Producer of a couple of new podcasts while The Bevs have been on hiatus! I act as the lady behind the scenes of each of these podcasts, handling social media and web content. Both are hosted by Molly McAleer of Plz Advise and co-founder of HelloGiggles.
Now, for some other quick highlights:
- We’re planning our wedding, whooo! We’re eloping and not having an actual wedding or reception, and I cannot tell you how thrilled we are about that. Low stress and exactly what we want. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right?
- I finally visited NYC. It was a blast – I joined my love for a few days in the City and we did all the great touristy things. My faves: we visited Top of the Rock at sunset, traveled to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and took a cruise around Manhattan with some friends who joined us from home.
- Said “see ya later” to my favorite band, who (much to my dismay) is taking a year off from the road. Dave Matthews Band, you gave me some killer shows this year – from Blossom to Alpine to Deer Creek, many memories were made and I will miss you so much in 2017! (Plus side, I can plan my wedding without worrying about missing a show. Ha. I’m only sort of kidding. lol)
- I learned how to ride a motorcycle! I can’t believe it. I was once terrified to ride with my love on his, but he *gently* urged me to take a course. Last weekend, I took a ladies only course though Harley Davidson and learned how to ride the right, safe way. Not gonna lie – I want a Harley of my own now. Maybe one day – I should probably get a house first.
- I’m studying for my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. I figure since I’ve been officially a Project Manager for the last couple of years, I might as well make it official. I love learning new things and everything I’ve covered so far is making me a more knowledgeable PM. Anything to advance my career!
I’ve also learned a lot about myself over the past six months and grew as a person. How it’s okay to stay in my own lane and focus on myself instead of the lives of others. It’s been quite difficult to close some doors, but it was necessary to help myself move on and not be hurt (as much) anymore. I have to keep reminding myself that I cannot change others. I strengthened some friendships and let one lie. I realized I can be there for those who appreciate me, but some chapters must come to an end – but they can always be reopened if necessary.
Wow, could I have been anymore vague in that last paragraph?! I think a lot of people can relate to the things I’ve gone through this past year or so, but I’m just not quite ready to put it out there for the world to read. Or to deal with the backlash. Someday though, so please be patient. I will share when the time is right, and perhaps we can start a conversation. Either way, I have solid notes for my memoir…
That’s all for now, folks. I promise, I won’t stay away so long this time around. As always, thanks for listening! xoxo <3
by Nicole | Mar 27, 2016 | Life, Past Blog, Personal, Professional
I planned to write this post about a week ago, but I fell ill with the worst flu I’ve had in my adult life. My love even said this is the first time he’s seen me knocked on my ass by the plague – normally, I’m back to myself within a few days. Whatever this was, it sucked a week of my life away. But now I’m back in action, and I have wonderful things to share!
As you may (or may not) know, last year I became involved with a local writing group/collective: The Geeky Press. I joined mainly because of the monthly Downtown #WritersHack, which helped me better manage my time set aside to write. To say it has helped my writing is an understatement; it has done so much more, like helping me connect with other writers in Indianapolis, for which I’ve been desperately searching since graduating college.
In February, the two partners of The Geeky Press (Brad and Amber) approached and extended me an offer of partnership, which I graciously accepted. I am happy to announce that I am officially a partner of The Geeky Press! I will take over the organization and planning of the #WritersHack events, as well as assisting with other literary events the collective hosts. Soon, I’ll be putting together a little event of my own to get more writers in Indianapolis together, so stay tuned!
The other piece of news to share… over the last few years, I started exploring the world of podcasts (if you have a podcast you think I’d enjoy, please tell me about it – I’m always looking for new things!). Recently, I discovered something right up my alley: THE BEVS, co-hosted by Ariana Madix (yes, of the hit Bravo reality TV show Vanderpump Rules) and one of her good friends, Meredith Kate. The Bevs cover many things, like politics, current events, pop culture, friendships, and feminism. I found the podcast through a couple of others I listen to, and also because I’m shameless fan of #PumpRules on Bravo.
After getting hooked to Bevdom, I sent the ladies an email and shortly after became good old fashion (email) pen pals with Meredith, a move inspired by Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast (see Episode 1: Friendship with Ashley C. Ford to see what we mean). After sharing emails about intimate parts of our lives for a month, we began texting and I offered to help out with some behinds the scenes work of the podcast so Meredith and Ariana can focus on creating episodes with fabulous guests and building the Bev Empire.
I’m thrilled now to share that I am officially the Bev Behind The Bevs – I joined the Bev team at the beginning of March and now assist the ladies with various work behind the scenes of the pod, from website shenanigans to other online initiatives. I’m so excited to be on board! Here is some shameless plugging: Subscribe on iTunes | Listen on Soundcloud | Follow on Social Media: Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Tumblr – Spotify
Now, hopefully the next exciting piece of news I share with you, faithful readers, has to do with personal writing projects! With that said, I better get back to it. Lots of great things are in store – to say I’m eager for the exciting next chapter of life is me just playing it cool. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with both of these ventures and bringing lots of good stuff your way. I hope you check out The Geeky Press if you’re local to Indianapolis and see what The Bevs are all about. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about either. Happy Sunday!
by Nicole | Jan 17, 2016 | Education, News, Politics
We have officially entered the year of the next Presidential election in the United States. While I tend to keep my political thoughts to myself or only share with a small group of friends/colleagues, I feel it’s important to share some information with my friends, family, and readers.
If you aren’t sure of who you will vote for, that’s just fine – especially considering the field of candidates has yet to be narrowed down for the actual election later this year. If you’d like to get a head start and begin your research now, go for it. I highly recommend two websites to help you become a more informed voter: ISideWith.com and FactCheck.org
ISideWith.com is a wonderful resource, especially if you are very unsure of where you stand or which party/candidate you want to support. Don’t be sucked in by the evils of media; rather, take your time and answer the questions on this website. Their tagline – “How do your beliefs align with the potential candidates?” This is important… it focuses on YOUR beliefs.
My advice: be honest and answer the extra questions. It may take a little while, but it’s worth it. The last time I filled it out, I think it took about 30 minutes to complete with me answering each question in detail. Always select the position on the scale of if that issue is more or less important to you, and definitely expand the “Other Stances” option on each question to get more specific. Sometimes, a simple yes or no doesn’t suffice on the issues at hand. Here’s an example question:
Dissecting the features, there is a spot for the user to select how important that issue is to them. It’s a scale of Less to More, with Somewhat being the middle of the road. Next to the actual question, there’s a button for you to click to learn more about the issue, in case things aren’t immediately clear. That brief description will sometimes even offer why some are against and why others are for the particular issue. Below the Yes or No option, there’s another for Other Stances. Once you click that, more options appear, allowing you to get more specific about your personal belief on the issue. If you click Add your own stance you will be given a text box for you to type how you really feel. Note that your response in that area is added to the database and other users can see it when they browse through the website.
When you finish the quiz, you’ll be given a breakdown of who you side with, which party fits your views, and a ton of other features including how others in your location/demographic feel about the issues.
When I started the quiz, I thought (without a doubt) I’d be aligned with a certain candidate and party. At the end of the quiz, I was surprised to see my top candidate and party. Reading through my answers, it made a lot of sense. This is how we should begin making our voting decisions. Not only will you solidify your convictions, you’ll be able to find the person who aligns the most with your personal views. Then, you can make the decision if that person is indeed the best person to run our great nation. Keep going back too throughout the year to see if anything changes, especially when the candidates have been narrowed down. I will be visiting this site often over the next several months to ensure I vote with intelligence come November.
FactCheck.org is a fantastic resource that helps us cut out all the crap said in the heat of the moment or in an effort to earn a vote. I could give endless examples with this, but just consider the recent debates and statements some candidates are saying about each other. It’s a fact – some will say and do whatever it takes to get you to be on their side, regardless if it’s true or false. This unfortunately leaves it up to us to do more research to verify what is true or not. In the end, it at least makes us more informed.
I love this site simply because it is dedicated to presenting the facts and no party/candidate is safe. You can trust if something is said in error, this site will be quick to correct the inaccuracies and provide detailed information on the specific topic or issue. Their mission is to increase public knowledge through journalistic and scholarly principles. This site makes it easy for a citizen to find the truth among the mess that is modern politics. They have a great section titled “Viral Spiral.” This is dedicated to helping people sift through the rumors. If you’re on Twitter, go ahead and follow – no bias, no bullshit.
In closing: please do your research and don’t just blindly vote for a party. Don’t vote for someone because your parents or friends would. Get educated. Be informed. Take your time and really look into the potential candidates on your own. Don’t rely on media to tell you for whom you should cast your vote. Don’t let your friends and families tell you what you think. These two websites are just some of the few out there that will help you begin your research, help you form your own opinion, and then you will be able to be an informed voter. It’s your vote and yours alone. Make it count!
by Nicole | Jan 10, 2016 | Life, Lists, Past Blog
Stuck in a rut? Not happy with how things are going in your life? It must be time for a change! Speaking strictly on my own personal experience, I have found happiness by doing a few little things – get rid of the negative influences and alter some things. I’ve changed where I shop for groceries. I bought the lip gloss I had eyed for some time, ignoring the past reservations I had about it being the “right” shade for me. I called an old friend and caught up (yes, I actually picked up the phone and dialed her number instead of writing her a short message on Facebook). I dabbled in yoga and meditation (and still do). I surrounded myself with positive energy. I opened myself up to new experiences (no matter how challenging they might be). I tried to look for the positive in every single situation.
I realize this can be hard – I really do. It’s important to remember the big picture here – you only get one life, and it’s up to you how you want to live it.
It’s quite simple… and it starts by making two lists. (If you know me personally, you know how I love to make lists!)
LIST #1: List All the Stuff You Love. That’s easy enough, right? Just make a list of everything you love about your life. If you find this hard to do because of your situation, make the list be everything you want to love about life. It doesn’t matter how long or short this list is, it’s meant to give you clarity and direction to get you where you need to be. Once you have your list, look for patterns. If you see a yearning for artistic activities being a theme, you might be looking for a way to be more creative.
Now to throw a curve ball – start thinking about what makes you green with envy. It’s helpful, I promise, because jealousy can direct us to our deepest desires. You might be jealous of a friend who seemingly has it all – how did she get to where she is now? Then ask yourself… do I really want _____? How can I make this happen? In the end, it all comes down to this – look for something you love, think about what you want to change, and focus on what you need to do to get there.
LIST #2: Create an Achievable Action Plan. Now that you have the list of what you love and where you want to be… how do you get there? It’s changing the small things that will help you obtain your goal and achieve ultimate happiness.
Let’s go back to the example about artistic activities. Say you love art, but you need inspiration. Hit up some local museums, art galleries, or travel to the next big city and check out their art scene. Or take a road trip by yourself. Not only will you refresh your soul and concentrate on what you want, you will get to see something new and (hopefully) exciting. A change of scenery and surrounding yourself with new people is always a good way to dive head first into making life changes.
Write down what you think are the necessary steps to make your life better. If you’re going to spring for the road trip, map out where you want to go, what you wish to accomplish, and some goals on which you can concentrate. Not only does it get you excited about where your life could turn, it will help you stay organized and on track to making the most of your life.
Now that you’ve made those two lists… it’s time for you to live by my personal motto: just make it happen! Accomplishment is an amazing feeling. I recommend starting small – the less on your lists, the more likely you are to cross items off quickly. Then, continue building your lists. The idea is that these lists will never be complete, so long as you have the drive to build a better life and become a better person. And I know you do!
Don’t Get Discouraged. Start at the beginning of your list. Read through it and ask yourself… what can I eliminate today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? This will help you organize your goals and make them more attainable. These things take time, so work on your patience. Some things can change overnight, but the majority of the life changes you’re seeking will take some serious time to tackle. Once you have a timeline created, you can begin to…
Make the Changes. TODAY. Right now. Stop wasting time! Simply start attacking the list, one line at a time. You’ve already gone through and figured out what can be done immediately, and what will take a lot of time to do. Like I said before, start small. Work your way through the list. Be patient. If you’re putting forth the effort to make the changes, they will come. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You can do this!
I am a firm believer that people are in control of their own happiness. You have to be willing to go to the distance to make the necessary changes for improvement. It’s not up to anyone else, just you. And you can do that – I believe in you. Get excited and make those changes you’ve been thinking about for some time. After all, life is what you make it – awesome, miserable, or just plain old average. It’s in your hands!
by Nicole | Sep 19, 2015 | Journals, Life, Past Blog, Personal, Reflections, Writing
Me? I feel like I’m a shitty journal keeper. Personal journaling, that is (unless you count Twitter). I’m pretty consistent when it comes to jotting down my thoughts about my writing journey. I opened a journal I started last September. I’ve barely filled a third of it with personal notions. In fact, most of the entries end are about writing (which is great). Some of my personal life seasons the pages, but not enough. But who really decides what is actually enough – the journaler or the possible reader?
The term journaling can be used loosely, meaning anything from penning some brief thoughts to writing down daily gratitude and grievances. A lot of well-known authors have kept journals about their writing process while working on a project (or just in general). Teenagers begin with their diaries, working out their angsty or whimsical points of view (hello, this was totally me as a kid). Some continue into adulthood recording every detail about their lives for their own benefit, and others find their passion for writing and use it as a tool to keep them going or better understand their personal writing process.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. With that said, I don’t really know what holds me back when it comes to writing about my personal life. I have an empty journal on my bookshelf just waiting for me to write in it the story of my life. There, I could write about all the things I don’t want to talk about with others (although I know I should – honestly, it’s just easier for me to bottle it up, place it on a shelf, and move the fuck on). Maybe I will soon, but maybe I won’t just yet. While I like the idea of a great-grandchild finding my diary several years after I’ve left this life, I’m so undisciplined about writing every detail down in my journal at the start or end of each day. It’s all in my mind, but that’s lousy for those I leave behind after journeying toward the great unknown. I also fear there is nothing exciting about my low-key, fairly drama-free life, but I guess that isn’t up to me to decide in the end.
One thing I know I will do is continue to write about my writing process and journey down this long and crooked path. My struggles with writing fiction as a bred nonfiction writer and poet at heart (even if it is shit) have been a big focus as I’m working on my first serious attempt at substantial piece of fiction. I actually enjoy the complicated process of crafting a well-written story. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment… I’ve much room to improve, especially when it comes to structuring the story. My biggest issue is wrangling all the random ideas I have about the project on hand and getting them on paper. I just have to suck it up and try my best to make it happen.
I feel I am becoming better at the fiction writing process. I owe that to the story I am writing and the copious amounts of fiction I read. I think about it all the time’ it needs to come out. I’m desperately coaxing it out of the dark corners of my mind. Some days, I have major breakthroughs and I feel as though nothing can stop me. Other days, life happens and I am at a standstill, which can be discouraging.
I keep writing and I keep reading. Even when I don’t want to, I do it. I feel guilty that I don’t write more; however, actually sticking to a writing schedule is helping ease that guilt. Keep pushing. You’ve got this. Work this story out – it could be really great – just something I tell myself almost daily.
This isn’t a resolution to be better about writing about the everyday. It should be, but I figure if I’m writing something every day, I’m on the right track when it comes to polishing my craft, regardless if it focuses on one genre or another…
…Because writers actually write – every day.
They move their pens, they type on their laptops or typewriters, they push the pencil, and they write shit down every single day. Some have a purpose when they journal and others just free write. Some start with freewriting exercises (writing prompts or whatever they can pull from their mind at the time) and it turns into something profound. That’s me, minus the piece turning into something profound! Pages of prompts could eventually turn into great stories – flash-fiction, a memoir, a novella/novel, poetry, or even online serialized literature. That’s my hope, anyway – it’s enough to keep my pen pressed to the paper.
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