Category Archives: My Life in New York City

Why You Should Move To A New City At Least Once In Your Life

 

 

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This post has literally been cooking in my head for weeks and I’m thrilled to finally post it here for all of you to see! On any given day, I find myself sharing New York City’s streets and trains with thousands of people where I make observations that constantly inspire me. I thought of this post when I was commuting to work.

“There is truth in the principle that novelty and challenge bring happiness.”

I first read this in Gretchen Rubin’s Bestseller “The Happiness Project” and I now realize how utterly true it’s been so far..although the novelty of my move is not over yet.

The cause behind this boost in happiness comes from the huge boost in self-esteem and accomplishment that comes from pushing through and conquering this feat that is totally new.

Of course people avoid novelty and challenge because it often means delayed happiness.

“You have to pass that stressful period of feeling stupid, vulnerable, frustrated, confused, insecure (which I felt A LOT of while adjusting to NYC)…and then you conquer the challenge. That’s what makes coming out on top after the struggle so much sweeter. The victory is delicious…even the signs of victory are delicious.”


This can apply to starting a blog with no tech experience, learning a new language OR moving to a brand new city without having done so in the past.

I get asked on a daily basis why I moved from California to New York City. I still struggle to answer WHY I moved here but I can tell you what Living in New York City has taught me:

  • to be more fearless
  • to be more comfortable in my skin
  • to give less f@*ks!
  • to give more f#%ks…about what really matters
  • to laugh more (because I give less f@ks)
  • to be more confident in myself (because god knows I wasn’t going to come out unchanged)
  • to embrace my femininity
  • to get out of my shell and have a diverse group of friends
  • to be smarter and quick on my feet
  • to be tenacious
  • to go for it
  • to experience and appreciate the seasons (This inspired one of my best art pieces!)
  • to appreciate the little bit of sunlight offered by New York’s mean winter
  • to jump for joy at the tiniest sign of Spring approaching
  • to be in the moment and appreciate a random show in the station, the train or the street
  • to pick up strange hobbies (like boot camp fitness)
  • to be extremely resourceful (I have to be!)
  • more tech savvy (I use apps that I didn’t know of before I moved here to make life easier and even find freelance work using Fiverr and Taskrabbit.
  • to be more efficient with my time and priorities
  • to be ambitious and say YES to opportunity (Thanks to the inspiring people I have around me like Jinna Yang, Priscilla Rodgers and the online communities I follow)
  • to value my smartphone like it’s my lifeblood (because I couldn’t navigate the city without it if my life depended on it)
  • to read more books (thanks subway)
  • to BREATHE

I guess it’s ironic that the fast paced ferocity of New York City has taught me to BREATHE and more effectively manage my stress levels. It really is out of necessity because I would’ve had a heart attack a long time ago if I didn’t.

This move has redefined my impossible and has made me rediscover my belief in myself. I was half the woman I am Today before I left the safety of my comfort zone in California.

So that’s why I make the case for giving a new city a try if you haven’t before. It will redefine your impossible, redefine your idea of yourself and expand your mind.

Get out there!

-Nicole

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Lets Talk About Fear And Courage

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A few weeks ago during the Central Park Zoo Volunteer Orientation I introduced myself to a room of 20 people who shared the same passion for wildlife. I included a personal story about when I drove to the Mojave Desert to hang out with Wolves (my favorite animal) at the Wolf Sanctuary and got to hold their giant paws in my hands.

During a short break one of the trainees approached me and to tell me how brave that was of me to be in a pen with animals as dangerous as wolves.

It got me thinking  and I quickly responded:

“You know, I don’t think it has anything  to do with bravery when there is absolutely no ounce of fear in me when I’m in the presence of wolves. I love and appreciate them so much that I don’t think it’s me being brave. And I think they feel that.”

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Perhaps I’m a lunatic for not being afraid in the presence of wolves, sharks or snakes but either way it’s not bravery.

“Bravery and fear are cousins believe it or not. Bravery is the act of feeling the fear and charging through it! No matter how terrified you are of the unknown.”

  • Bravery is when I decided to move across the country to New York City without a safety net and despite the feelings of unease and occassional anxiety attacks.
  • Bravery is when the man or woman decide to disclose their true feelings to their new sweetheart while terrified of rejection.
  • Bravery is when someone decides to stop wearing their “bullshit” mask and disclose who they really are
  • Bravery is when someone leaves that unhealthy relationship or secure but unsatisfying job to find what’s right for them while tossing themselves into the unknown.

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That, my friends, is BRAVE. People who go against the typical human instinct of remaining in the safety of complacency and mediocrity and stretching themselves as far as they can go. It’s when someone uses that higher wisdom and vision for what’s beyond the here and now and beyond the instant gratification and fast fixes.

The beautiful thing is that I see it more now that I put myself in this huge, gritty, dynamic, ever-changing city! People are dropping their slow and easy lives back home and challenging themselves here. Human resilience doesn’t fail to inspire me and I’m seeing it every day.

I’d be lying if I told you I was brave and making it happen all on my own. No one’s an island and I have to thank the supportive and inspiring community of Live Your Legend, Dreamer&Doers, my new and awesome friends from Young Living, Wendy, Jinna, my beautiful mama, my encouraging friends from home and many more.

-Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love Sundays: Day of Enrichment

With the trainees in a snowy afternoon in Central Park

With the trainees on a snowy afternoon in Central Park

Ever since I gave myself Sunday off every week, my happiness levels have risen drastically. I finally have the ability to achieve something resembling a routine.

This is a big achievement for me as I’m the “Queen of uncertainty!”

Now, every Sunday for the next 2 months I’m obligated to attend the Central Park Docent Training where our group will learn to be wildlife interpreters. This addition of structure to my week and “one no-exception free day” gives me peace of mind and a jubilant feeling of fulfillment.

“This is an activity that’s in line with my passion and interests in wildlife conservation.” Giddiness!

In addition to this training every Sunday, I’ll either join Wendy at her upbeat church or go to Joann’s Public Speaking Bootcamp to hone my skills.

What I love about this is that it’s MY day of enrichment.

“It’s not a day of hangover-recovery or passive relaxation but a day of active and intentional betterment-which brings me joy.”

What is Enrichment? In the context of zoos and aquariums, this is providing a stimulating and challenging activity/environment for an animal to keep it mentally and physically fit. Animals get bored too and it’s important to find ways to keep them sharp and engaged.

It’s my only, no exceptions-made day off and I choose to fill it with activities that make my life “richer.” Everybody has things or interests that bring them meaning and fulfillment and it’s needed every day or at least every week.

“Don’t think about what the world needs, find out what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

So while I’m working a job to make ends meet, I’m making moves and planting seeds in ways that will bring more of what I love into my life.

What day is your day of enrichment? What activities make your life richer?

Geek out my friends,

-Nicole

Always Know Your “Why”

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It’s been a rough ride for the last couple of weeks to tell you the truth. More generally, I feel that New York City has been losing it’s charm since I had that big shift in late November. Losing my momentum and spirit, I decided to ask myself why I was doing what I was doing.

“Really, what’s the point? I’m struggling and highly uncomfortable and not exactly happy with how things are going right now.”

The answers I found to that question came from within me and with the aid of a friend from home. I choose to continue living in New York City despite my current discontent because:

  • I made the leap to move here and I want to give it a chance
  • Emotions are fleeting and I figure this is a temporary low
  • Something inside of me is telling me to keep going and I secretly like the pain (maybe?)
  • I don’t want to be a quitter and jump ship before I’ve tried all my options
  • I have a lot to learn from this place
  • I’ve met so many people already and want to see where these relationships go
  • and I’m eager to experience NYC in all its seasons

My friend Maya reminded me of how bored and limited I was feeling in my hometown in California and that I should be proud of making the leap to move here without a foundation. Thanks Maya.

Thinking about the reason why I’m continuing with “the thrash” is vital to my motivation to stay where I am.

Knowing the “why” of our actions help us understand ourselves, our motives and our situations better. It’s what gives us the dose of perspective we need to live our lives intentionally.

I believe that the biggest contributor to my happiness will be my social relationships so I’m going to prioritize opportunities to meet people and network over rest and errands. Being new to the city, this is KEY! I’m just say YES.

Looks like that’ll be my main resolution for 2015. Make friends and ultimately form my tribe. To do that I will attend events from Dreamers&Doers, Meetup.com, coworkers, friends of friends and out&about. I’ve also been wanting to workout with Circuit of Change.

Well that’s about it, time to get some shut eye.

Have a nice weekend!

-Nicole

 

 

 

 

Emerging From Hiding

My mood is a lot sunnier now than it was last week. I have to attribute that to the compounding of negative events that unfolded in the previous weeks. First, getting sick is a huge DOWNER. Second, finding oneself having to look for a new job again SUCKS! You put these together and you get pressure, helplessness, and anxiety.

Fortunately I did the right thing by trying to get as much done as possible through the computer applying for jobs and then reading a book directed at changing destructive thought patterns. I knew I had to change something inside of me because I tend to “coincidentally” get sick when there’s a big change happening.

It HAD to stop! I refuse to go through something as frustrating as that again. I want to be strong and equipped to rise up when adversity hits again. Many NY veterans have told me that I’ll probably get sick here more often than in California but I refuse! I won’t let it happen.

I know that my anger, denial and hesitance to move on (in regards to my job situation) eventually led to my diminished immunity and my nasty cold. Combining the physical disciplines of increasing sun exposure, movement, and interpersonal interaction with the mental disciplines of daily positive affirmations, reading and effective goal setting helped me to heal and lighten up my mood.

Phew! I’m glad to be out of the gloom. I’m actually happy it’s going to SNOW on Wednesday! I also have a few interviews tomorrow so things are starting to look up. I’ll give you an update afterwards.

Stay tuned..

-Nicole

Dealing With Seasonal Changes

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Wow I’m so new to this drop in sunlight and temperature! In the last couple of weeks I have been experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is the winter blues that usually occur in late autumn/early winter causing depression, irritability, unhappiness or low energy attributed to less sun exposure.

I am definitely feeling funkier than usual and I think the huge decrease in my outdoor activities is the culprit. The fact that I’ve been sick and not spending much time with people is another factor. It has come to my attention that I require lots of physical activity, sun exposure and regular interaction with people to feel happy.

I have to take a proactive approach to address this trend so I can be effective in my job search and to experience more joy. The truth is that EVERYTHING works out in our favor when we have a good attitude and project happiness onto people and our surroundings.

It’s tough to make get positive results if you’re not feeling very optimistic to begin with but, alas, that’s why you have to accept the feeling and then move on. You have to push through and “act the way you wanna feel.” I borrowed that last quote from the book I’ve been enjoying titled The Happiness Project by Getchen Rubin.

I chose to read The Happiness Project because Gretchen takes on a series of actionable steps to bring more satisfaction to all areas of her life: Vitality, Marriage, Work, Parenthood, Leisure, Friendship, Money, Spirituality, Knowledge, Mindfulness and Attitude. I appreciate the approach because it resembles cognitive behavioral therapy which, in my eyes, gets faster results than trying to change the way one thinks.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

As for now, I’m going to do a few things to feel better:

  1. Apply to jobs on Craigslist and Sittercity.com
  2. Reach out to friends here and from home to feel more connected
  3. Go for a walk when the sun’s out
  4. Find a yoga or dance class to attend when I’m able
  5. Download some music on my phone to make it more fun to work out in the gym
  6. Attend some art meetups when I’m able

I think that’s enough for now, stay warm!

-Nicole

 

 

Attitude of Gratitude

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Wow, I had a gratifying couple days off and I’m so glad I spent them the way I did. Last week, I went to the American Museum of Natural History twice and had a blast both times, despite going by myself on the second visit. There I realized that “wonder” and “awe” are very therapuetic feelings to experience for me and anyone who loves to learn. The museum was bustling with families and tour groups and there I was-wandering and patiently reading the information by the exhibits, perfectly content all by myself. I had no idea there was a species of American lizard that exists only as a female.

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Either way, this hinted that I need to steer my energies more in the direction of “education-exploration-conservation.” Somehow I’m going to devise a way to incorporate these in my everyday life and work. I saw these three key words repeated over and over in the Museum and the NY Aquarium in Brighton Beach.

Another gem that I explored was Prospect Park in Brooklyn which doesn’t match Central Park in size but certainly does so in beauty. The park and all it’s trees were stunning and a pleasure to look at. It’s lovely for a Southern Californian like me to witness such drastic changes in the landscape as a result of the seasons. There we were, my new friend and I, surrounded by glistening lakes, streams and the warm hues coloring the trees’ leaves. Visit this place, it will be a great escape from the city and it’s grayness.

Another thing that I wanted to express gratitude for was finding myself in a place where I’m encouraged to be myself. The people and my current location is receiving me warmly, and I’m not even trying to fit in! This did not happen back in Santa Barbara and Buellton. I tried to change everything, my attitude, my approach, my actions…and NOTHING. Then I pick up and move and finally everything and everyone is “responding.” Environment is everything! It’s no joke that sometimes we just don’t fit in and you find yourself swimming upstream. C’mon, the life of a salmon sucks! Don’t keep trudging along if there’s no sign that things will change. I’m so glad I did this because all that my world is asking of me is to keep being who am and it’s a beautiful feeling.

Cheers to self-acceptance!

-Nicole

Adjustment

Inhale love, energy, joy and hope

Exhale exhaustion, negativity, anger, and frustration

Lately, I would find myself stopping and slowly exhaling. It is like a whole body exhalation. I think I was unconsciously doing this to let go of stress and find relief. I’m glad I took something away from taking Karen Palmer’s Kundalini Yoga class in Buellton, California. This last week I found myself increasingly tired and frustrated from menial day-to-day happenings. It seems that I am experiencing “super delayed onset muscle soreness” from the jump in activity starting from the first day of work. I was so surprised I wasn’t being phased by being on my feet all day for the first 2 weeks at the restaurant and then, all of a sudden, those two weeks of tension and strain culminated into me barely being able to walk without feeling soreness.

Despite the charm of living in New York City, there are many daily stressors that can contribute to throwing the average person “off the bandwagon.” Many of these are found on the daily commute to work when most people have to use public transportation and share lots of personal space. There are many people asking for money by performing, begging or announcing an uncomfortable sob story (in the  subway) that one will encounter on the daily. Running errands is a complete hassle because people here work a lot and tend to use their almost nonexistent free time for these. And since NYC is crowded and people don’t have to much privacy, you will see a lot of weird stuff and people wigging out or tripping out. This is either because they are on drugs or mentally unstable. The bombardment of outside stimulation and noise will either numb people’s sensitivity or stress them out. The good thing is that I am learning to passively observe (or laugh at) all the chaos instead of internalizing it. I think Cyndi Mikelson and Karen Palmer would be proud of me 🙂

In terms of my living situation I’m doing pretty well because I finally have the essentials in my new room. Now I have a new item on my important to-do list: 4) Get A Career Related Job Or Internship (Apart from my current job)

That’s all for now, till then-take care.

-Nicole

 

 

 

Hello Bushwick

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What a rush! I moved into my new apartment with my new housemates just last week on October 1st and it’s been great. Now I have a lot more to do in terms of homemaking and getting settled in. It’s going to take a while since I have a busy schedule during the week and moving heavier furniture  without a car requires lots of planning or money. In the meantime, I have to make-do with little more than an air mattress and most of my stuff on the floor.

Fortunately I was right about my new housemates being open to becoming close friends. We hit it off completely and happen to be from out of the state like myself. Just yesterday we helped each other move a bunch of kitchenware up five flights of stairs, cooked and then went for a night out in the town. I couldn’t be more grateful at the moment. I think all I really need to feel at home is a dresser, nightstand and a mattress with a bed frame.

I’m also thrilled to be so close to a vibrant art scene where murals line the streets and bars look like greenhouses. I just might become a Brooklynite and not want to leave the borough :P.

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Growing Roots

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Hello! I just signed a year lease in this beautiful building in the artistic part of Bushwick (Brooklyn) where I’ll be no longer than a 30 min commute to work! I’m so happy because this is the most grounded I’ve felt since I moved here in August. My roots are beginning to take hold in NYC in terms of job, friends, and NOW – a new home. Things are finally starting to fall into place and make more sense. I’m hopeful that my to-be roommates will become good friends with me because they are both from out of town and keen on getting established in this neighborhood like myself. In the best case, we will grow and expand together.

This week was the ultimate test (in my standards) on my nerves at work since it was my first week off of training and I had to work six shifts in 4 days! That means I had to work some 12-hour days on my feet and running around like a mad woman trying to keep the customers and staff happy. On my day off, I spent the whole day searching for a permanent place to live and found what I was looking for. Nowadays I have been covering ground that I have never covered before. Just a few months ago I never imagined myself being able to handle working in a busy, high caliber New York City restaurant or moving to such a cut-throat city full of ambitious and qualified people. I simply believed I didn’t have the energy, stamina, memory or stress-management ability to do the job. I also read that most restaurants won’t even hire people without NYC work experience. And here I am proving all these beliefs wrong, and it feels great (I’m starting to feel like my old, tough, determined self again). Working in the service industry is an excellent way to get a foothold in a new city.

-Nicole