Categories
self discovery

Vanilla

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Nine years ago, I worked at a software company in San Francisco.

I got the job through a temp agency and quickly converted to a full time role I probably didn’t deserve.  Being an office manager wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I did enjoy spending my time blogging, writing Yelp reviews (I had just become “Elite”), and gossiping with my friend Sonny about my dating and drinking life.

I lived for going out, meeting new people, networking, and documenting my adventures on the internet.  I used Blogspot at the time, and I thought my mishaps were of the genius variety.  I was certain there was more for me than a job at a front desk in SOMA, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.

So I went out.  A lot.

RIP to The Lion Pub

To fill the work day, I obviously needed a work crush.  When you’re 25, what job is complete without a work crush as a distraction?  I vividly remember the cottonmouth feeling of arriving on Bagel Wednesday after a long night out in the marina with my friend Mary, sweating out vodka and maybe even tacos, preparing the breakfast delivery for a team of data security engineers and executives.  I’d toast a bagel for myself, feeling partially sick as I swallowed my coffee, only to see him walk into the office kitchen.

I immediately became much too chatty, telling him all about my escapades and hinting at inviting him out with us.  He was a gentleman- a Kennedy type from Austin with an MBA- and I was certain he would see past my childish antics, realizing I was a serious writer and potential rising entrepreneur.  I mean, didn’t he see my Yelp reviews?

Nevertheless, I would go back to my desk, and Sonny would swing by and cheer me up.  He, on the other hand, adored my drunken tales of Chestnut and Fillmore Street, Taco Tuesday at the Bluelight, and which Ivy League school my latest conquest was from.

“You have special powers,” he would say.  “Men love you.”  I was extremely pleased to hear this from a 40-something gay man.

“So why doesn’t he come out with me?”  I asked Sonny.  He just smiled.

“He’s far too vanilla for you.”

I had never heard this before.

2010 was the last year I thought my reckless drinking and behavior was somewhat normal.  I was also in deep denial.  However, Sonny’s comment struck a chord.

I may have entered the decade thinking there was something wrong with me; and there was. Obviously, the Kennedy-esque work crush wasn’t interested in a hard partying 25 year old.  Nevertheless, thanks to Sonny, I discovered that maybe he wasn’t what I wanted, either.

I may not drink or go out looking for men these days, but I will never lose my quirks.  They’re what makes me me. 

I entered the decade thinking I needed to change for other people, but I’m leaving it knowing that the only person I needed to change for was myself- and no matter what I became, vanilla wasn’t meant for me.

I am definitely more of the Superman or Neapolitan variety.

Categories
empowerment self discovery

The Day I Found My Freedom

I’ll never forget the feeling I had that March afternoon in San Francisco.

I was just dropped off at SFO, heading to my gate for my return flight to Michigan.  Tears in my eyes, I got out my phone to call my parents.

“I don’t want to go back,” I declared. “I’m going to call off the wedding.”

It was 2008, and I had been engaged for exactly seven months.  Although the engagement was quick, and I thought I was happy at the time, it didn’t take long for me to see the reality before my very eyes.

The day in, the day out.  The daily traffic into my corporate job.  Coming home to the same routine, every day, to the same person- at 23 years old.

I knew it wasn’t the life for me.  Two years earlier I had plans to move to New York City as soon as I graduated.  I didn’t expect to meet someone later that year, on my 22nd birthday on December 22nd, who would swoop me off to Kauai for Valentine’s Day and move me into their beautiful suburban house once I finished college.  I’ve always been a big believer in signs, so I thought, “maybe I’m not supposed to go to New York after all.”  There had to be a bigger reason for meeting this person on such a significant day to me.

Back in 2006, my partying was getting out of control despite my grand plans for finishing school and heading to the city.  At the time, it seemed like he was an angel saving me from myself.

I would later learn no one could save me but me.

When I told my father, he thought I was insane.  Of course, any father wants their daughter be taken care of and to have a good life.  A good life to me looked a bit different than my parents’ view, though.

The day before my flight, my half sister (who worked in SF at the time) and I talked about my relationship and my goals for life.  Before I even realized it, she knew the marriage wouldn’t work.  She challenged my views and helped me realize I should take some time to reconsider.  She helped me think differently about what I really wanted- because for over a year, someone else was trying to make all my decisions for me.

Little Italy, 2008

As the plane took off, I thought about how I would wait a couple of weeks before telling my fiancé I didn’t want to get married.  I thought about what types of jobs I could apply to in San Francisco, where I would live, and who I could become.  I daydreamed of freedom, making new friends, and exploring the magical, quirky sights of the city.  My gut told me moving was the right thing to do- and from the moment my fiancé greeted me at the gate, I knew it was over.

I didn’t wait two weeks.

I told him right away.

Of course, he tried to convince me it was a phase and how my sister was envious of me. He attempted to tell me I didn’t know what I was doing and how I was meant to be with him. All of his efforts to control me- from my diet to physical activities to what I wore- filled my brain, and I no longer felt sorry for him.

I began to have a deeper compassion for myself.

For the next week I stayed on a friend’s couch, who took a day off work with me to pack up my things.  I left my princess cut diamond on the dresser, leaving behind all the furniture I helped buy with my graduation money.  No physical object was worth sacrificing my dreams- or my future.

Who knows what would have happened had I not taken that trip to see my sister in 2008. Perhaps the wedding would have happened, and maybe I would be divorced now.  We will never know.  However, despite the judgment I received from others, I knew deep in my heart that I was making the right choice.  I knew, at 23, that I didn’t want to take the easy way out and allow the wrong man to take care of me.  I simply refused to do that.

I would have to spread my wings and fly.

I would have to make mistakes on my own.

I would somehow, someway, succeed- and despite the failures, I would learn from them- because I finally had my freedom.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know I will never have to mourn the chances I didn’t take.  It’s been nearly 12 years since I took the leap, quit my job, and blindly moved to an apartment on California and Commonwealth Avenue.  Over the course of those 12 years, I’ve lived in a dozen more apartments, several other cities, and did eventually move to New York…

All because I chose freedom.

Categories
self discovery

Along Harrison and 24th

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Oh, how time flies… and how things change (yet stay the same).

It’s hard to believe I have officially been freelancing for a DECADE.  Back in 2008, my friend Steve and I started a small marketing company where we bartered with local businesses in San Francisco.

Steve made a little “nook” in the bay window that looked out onto 24th and Harrison.  It was there where we worked on our first website for Starboard Marketing, and where we used to eat, drink, and be merry.  That year, we threw a Chinese-themed party for the Olympics Opening Ceremony, played Sarah Palin Bingo, and watched the Giants play terribly (but loved them anyway)- we had no idea what their fate would be in 2010.

Above his apartment in the Mission District we also brewed beer, lovingly referred to as “Harrison Brewing Company.”  We named our first brew, a blonde ale, after his golden retriever, Mackerel.  We also made a hefeweizen that year named “Obam’ale,” which we (probably illegally) brought to the polls with us on election night.

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We thought we may be able to nab the new ice cream shop below his apartment, which we watched open as the retro stools were installed and the signs went up. He got their mail delivered to his address before they got their own, and were excited to run downstairs and try their “Secret Breakfast” ice cream after they opened. That ice cream shop is now the famed Humphry Slocombe.

From massage therapists and local restaurants to fashion designers and mobile shopping apps, my work has definitely changed over the years.  However, my heart still feels the same- I will only work with brands, causes, and companies I am passionate about.  Life is too short to not to do what you love.

7 cities and 10 years later, I’m still loving entrepreneurship, writing, and cultivating connections all over the world.  I’m beyond grateful for having a wild soul and free spirit that made me fearless and ready to take chances over these past 10 years.

2008 may have been a great year, but 2018 will be even better. 

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Starboard Marketing, Mack Dogg Ale, and

Categories
self discovery

Quick, Curious, Playful, and Strong

Clinch Park Marina, Traverse City
Clinch Park Marina, Traverse City


Uptown Charlotte

Pacific Heights, San Francisco

Battery Park, New York City

2013 ShopStyle Campaign
2013 ShopStyle Campaign

Cherry Capital Airport
A very special secret trip to San Francisco to collect my things at my ex’s condo before moving to NYC. Yes, I had a key, and no, he didn’t know I was coming.

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Beyond Yoga X Kate Spade Launch Party

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The Palace of Fine Arts

Central Park Stroll
Central Park Stroll

Remembering Kate Spade
12/24/1962 ~ 6/5/2018

Thank you to Kate Spade for all of the moments of style and inspiration.

May we continue to live colorfully and curiously. 💞✨

Categories
mindfulness

Living in Color

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A photo popped up on Facebook from a feature I was in on the former StyleList.com.  Four years ago, in the height of my fashion blogger days, I was getting ready for my move to New York City.  I had just escaped a bad relationship, where I had split my time between Traverse City, Charlotte, and San Francisco.  Off to New York, I would go- I would start fresh, and my dreams would come true.

Or so I hoped.

Bright eyed in a midi skirt with a fresh new bob, this girl was off to her new life on the Upper West Side.  Little did she know what was in store for her over the course of the next three years, though.

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Flashback Friday. Pacific Heights, 2014

2014 was a magical year.  Despite the challenges, the heartbreak, and the transitions- it was exciting.  It was full of life.  New York had yet to make me jaded, and my eyes were open to every possibility.  Maybe too many possibilities!

Lately I’ve been getting back into that old mindset though- the mindset of living life with excitement.  Viewing it as one big story.  A big fairytale… where anything can happen.

The mindset of living life in color.

I’ve been stuck in black and white for so long that I almost forgot about the pinks and the reds.  The yellow of the sun and the orange of my favorite baseball team. The bright opal sky on a warm spring night and the greens of the forest.

So that’s where I’m going to pick back up again- in color.  Back to that girl in 2014 who was packing up three dozen boxes of clothes (no exaggeration) and accessories before shipping them to an uptown apartment she had never seen or been to before.  Who got on that plane on a warm June day, on her way to a brand new life.  That girl who walked into restaurants alone, ordered an Eggs Benedict, and would meet a cute stranger (true story).

That girl who was fearless.

Never, ever let anyone break you.  Take the challenges as opportunities to grow even stronger, and instead of looking back with regret, be grateful for the ones who have made you tough.

You deserve to live in color.

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