Have an Epic 2017

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Gertrude is making a comeback in 2017.

It’s cliche and overwrought now, the idea of telling 2016 to not let the door hit it on the butt as it disappeared into history. It was a hard year no doubt, with the loss of so many familiar and famous faces, an unsettling presidential election, and so much tension worldwide. 2016 wasn’t an entirely bad year, though. I had a couple of significant personal highs, my brother getting married and the birth of my first child being tops of the list for me. But the year is over now and we are just a few days into 2017. I’m not one for resolutions, but for some reason this year it feels important to set a course. My life is dramatically different as I embark on a new year. 2017 Nicole is a very different lady than 2016 Nicole so I’ve taken a couple of days (most of them spent dealing with a fussy, post-shots baby boy) to figure out what direction I want to steer my new year in.

Guys, I’m planning to have an epic 2017.

On Friday I go back to work, but I am in a sense going to a whole new life. My job is amazing and I’ve been able to take on a different job role which in turn gives me a schedule that pretty much lets me be a stay at home mom while still earning a full-time income. This schedule change means my precious baby J is only going to be in childcare one day each week (and right now we’re lucky enough to have a family friend watching him.) It also means that I will actually have the flexibility to pursue some of my creative passions, like writing. Like makeup. Like everything. In 2017 I’m going to be working on my makeup and stylist side gigs, but also combining them with some other pursuits to create a whole image service. I’m also going to be working a bit with Rebecca Lassiter Photography and I am so excited about it. Rebecca took baby J’s first photos and I am obsessed with her work. I can’t wait to see where my creative pursuits take me.

I’m also focusing on my health and well-being this year. Last year was the year of finding out what was going on with myself emotionally and while mental health is always a work in progress I enter 2017 knowing my diagnosis and having a coping plan. What I need to focus on now is my body. Having a baby is hard! Being a mommy after the difficult physical process of birth is almost as taxing. I’ve already lost weight since having the baby, but I want to get myself to a healthy body weight. I’ve started doing Weight Watchers to help me towards my end goal of being literally half my size. It’s not about looking good (though I feel like I will be happier with my appearance) it’s about having my body in the best shape possible as J gets bigger and gives me a run for my money.

And speaking of money…I’m definitely trying to be more financially responsible this year. Expect to see more of my Target exploits, still unsupervised but perhaps a little more savvy. I have killer Target Style. Now I just want to do it on even more of a budget, which of course makes it even more awesome.

2017’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be epic.

What are your plans for 2017?

House and Home, Life

Starting over.

I am still a little bit in a daze. As I was taking down the Christmas decorations this weekend it struck me how I didn’t get an opportunity to enjoy them this go around. I did, after all, spend sixteen days of December out of town and away from my apartment. I’m still processing how I actually feel about that outside of disconnected and in a haze. Something about the entire process of my mother’s final round of illness through her death then into Christmas has left me both completely connected and feeling sharply like an outsider. It seems cliche to say that I feel like I’m missing a limb, but that is exactly what it feels like. I’ll go to reach for something (in this case, picking up the phone to call my mother) and then discover that there is nothing to reach for. There’s a space, an absence, an unfillable hole that doesn’t exactly hurt, but isn’t comfortable either.

In short? I feel orphaned, adrift, and guilty as hell that I’m not crying more than I already have.

I’m trying to keep in perspective that we all grieve differently and that it is okay to not cry and that it is okay to define sadness differently than standard. Keeping that in perspective isn’t easy, but it becomes a little less difficult when I faced with the clean slate that is a new year. I’ve said over and over that I’m not really a resolution person, but then I go ahead and make resolutions that I don’t really keep. If madness is defined by doing the same thing over and over with an expectation of different results then I’ve been mad a long, long time. Keeping madness in mind this year I am fully embracing that I am going to make resolutions. I hope that just owning it will be enough of a change to get me to keep them. Making and keeping resolutions this year just feels more important somehow. It’s almost as though I expect a project as personal as my own life to be the thing that helps me heal and, in some small way, lets me honor my mother. I have 366 days to find out if I’m right. Here are my 2016 Resolutions.

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Cook more, eat less.

Sounds kind of conflicting, doesn’t it? Here’s the deal though: I need to lose some weight. It’s a health thing, not an image thing. I also do need to fit nicely into a bridesmaid’s dress for my brother’s wedding in October and I have to order that sucker in April. (The dress fits me now, but I want some wiggle room.) That’s where the eat less comes in, but it ties in beautifully to cooking more. Right now? I eat a lot of fast food and take-out. A lot. Most of my lunches are junk. It’s so easy to just get and eat and if I want to overindulge it is far easier to do that with food I don’t cook. Cooking more is not only better for me, but it will limit my portions. I also love to cook so 2016 is going to be a year about really enjoying food in balance.

Make time for hobbies.

I work and then I work and then I do writing work. That is pretty much it. But I love photography and music and drawing and doing things that have nothing to do with writing and work. So why aren’t those things part of my life? These things that I love get trimmed out because they aren’t on the books. This year I am going to schedule my hobbies into my days. Things you love should be habit.

More concerts.

In 2015 I only went to two concerts, Third Eye Blind and a Fray/Matt Nathanson/Train show. I was unable to get tickets to a second Matt Nathanson show (damn scalpers. I hate StubHub.) I had tickets to see Third Eye Blind a second time, but I opted not to go (which ended up being a good idea because my mother entered the hospital that weekend.) I had such a good time at the concerts I got to see that I want to keep that going. So 2016? More concerts.

Step up my style game.

On New Year’s Eve I took about two hours to create a January Capsule Wardrobe. I will be writing more about this next week. As I was trying to select my forty piece wardrobe for the month I realized that while I don’t fully hate what I have to wear I also don’t feel like I have a specific look. I more or less figured out that my personal style is modern vintage with a classic bent (you can also call this Pinterest meets Dwell) but I want to make that as polished as I can. It means wearing better shoes, some with heels. It means buying t-shirts that will last more than a season. It’s about leather handbags and real jewelry. It’s more Madewell and less Forever 21. It’s about trying but not being obsessive and more touches of Kate Spade.


My high school years were spent journaling every single day. Even when I had nothing of worth to write down. I can’t say that I will journal every single day of 2016 but filling up my present journal so I have to buy a new one is definitely my priority. Journals are a cheap form of therapy, after all.

Twenty-five books.

That’s two books per month plus one. My first book will be City on Fire. Read more. It’s important.

Finish what I start.

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If I start something, I need to finish it. It would be really nice to get better at having completed projects instead of a pile of never-finished works not in progress. And yes, I will count picking up one of those discarded projects to be “starting.”

Handwriting and calligraphy refinement.

In a nutshell I just want to have better penmanship and ultimately learn to make pretty things with words so I can do my own wall art instead of spending too much money on Etsy. Seems legit to me.

What are some of your resolutions for 2016? Share them with me in comments so that maybe we can help support each other in this brand new year.

Life, Year of Making it Happen


Every year I forget what the holiday season is like when you work in retail. I forget about the thick, busy throngs of people rushing around the store aisles and cramming their cars into any available place that might be a parking space. My mind erases each year the image of the man, usually a husband or a father, standing with wide eyes and a lost expression in front of me as he comes to buy some product the woman in his life loves, but that he doesn’t understand. I easily move on from the expression of horror when he realizes that, yes, that lipstick did just cost you twenty-five dollars. I forget how nice people can be, and how intolerably picky when it comes to their holiday purchases.

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I also forget just how slammed I am during the holiday time of year. The body doesn’t remember that kind of pain and exhaustion, though my mind panics a bit at what it perceives as thriving, throbbing proof of how bad my time management skills are. Starting a new job in the middle of the craziest time of year was beyond overwhelming. I came home most nights tired and crabby and largely drained to the point of not being able to function. My left foot still hates everything. My writing and creative life have pretty much gone out the window.

But somewhere in all of that I’ve had a birthday.  I’ve done some holiday shopping. I went back to the South to spend Christmas with my family.  I’ve been on the receiving end of some off-hand comments that have sent me off on a perspective shift. I’m embracing the idea of no longer caring what people think of me and providing only one option: like me or don’t. Somewhere in all of that 2014 gave way to 2015. The calendar flipped and things renewed.  It’s a deeply good time of year.

2015, I have decided, is the year of making it all happen.  There are a lot of creative and personal rabbit holes I have delayed from going down that I think this is the year to explore them.  I’m not much for resolutions, but there is something terribly hopeful about a year’s worth of clean calendar. That, and a delightful itchy twitch to fill it all up not with want-to’s and might-try’s, but with have-done’s.  Some things I will do in 2015:

  • Cosplay at Planet Comicon in March
  • Start a YouTube channel
  • Build proper makeup storage
  • Travel
  • Read 30 books
  • Writewritewritewritewrite

There’s more, of course, but that’s a start. I can’t wait to see how this year works out.