Posted in entrepreneur

Becoming Polished

I’ve always loved yoga, but haven’t been committed to it for long enough to really feel its effects. Not flexibility or a deep breath or a strong core – but peace. Real peace. Inner peace. The kind of peace that does not come easy for most of us in the messy, complicated, distanced and overwhelmingly intrusive world we live in.

Getting through (or through so far) a global pandemic has been a transformative experience, to put it lightly and positively. 2020 was many things, ranging from terrifying to impossibly impossible to never-ending to heartbreaking. Owning a small business, especially a relatively new and quickly-growing one, COVID-19 really tested us, our system, our decisions and our plans. Yet despite all that, here we are.

A few months into COVID I realized that I could feel myself changing. The easiest and bluntest way to describe it was fast-paced mental and emotional puberty. It was painful and swift, but I noticed it; I was becoming stronger, smarter, more decisive, and direct. I was becoming less emotionally attached and sensitive and more action-driven and sensible. A great deal of my anxieties and hesitancies were ground out of me by the sheer force and time that only a year-long and historically unprecedented pandemic could bring.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I was becoming the businesswoman I needed to be; not to just survive COVID, but to take my business to the next level. I still have anxious and fearful moments, but they are few and far between compared to a year ago. Despite the hardships COVID has brought, too, our business has grown – and so have we, both as business owners and as a couple.

Now that I’m ending the second trimester of pregnancy, I feel bold and brave about entering motherhood. I feel as strong and capable and ready as I could ever be, and so does my husband. Now that we’ve gotten this far together and only grown closer, parenting seems like a job we can handle as a united front.

Yoga has been a gigantic help throughout this ordeal – from being locked inside the house with gyms closed to simply being pregnant, it’s become an integral part of my life that I love. It’s helped me detach from myself and connect with everything else, which feels even more important as I welcome a human being into the world and an ever-evolving business back into the workforce.

I came across this quote from Rumi a few days ago and was brought to tears. I thought, I was being polished! I knew it all along.

Posted in Veg/Vegan

Sustainability is Sexy – Food Edition

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we have very little control of the world around us. That makes things like New Year’s resolutions seem naive at best and obsolete at worst. Yet, here we are in a fresh, albeit still confounded, new year, and it feels impossible not to at least hope for the future.

As confusing, chaotic and damaging that 2020 was, it gave our global systems pause. It challenged us to consider what we really want and need. It mirrored back to us our own reality, and made a lot of the frivolous consumerism and distracted daily routines appear as they really are. I really do hope for a better world, now and in the future. I don’t have control of much, but I do have control of myself, my household, and my daily choices – and, at least in my life, they do matter.

My goal this year is to be more sustainable, and have our household do so as well. We’ve done the basic things like lugging around hydroflasks and swapping out cleaning products, but I’m still a bit shocked by the amount of trash two people produce every week. Now with a third on the way, we’ve started taking further steps to get our family on board with being conscious about how much we throw away and doable swaps we can adopt to soften the blow.

Food Containers

One of the easiest ways to reduce waste and save money is to pack your lunch. We bought a bunch of to-go containers and a couple cool items that make bringing our lunch super easy. My favorite is this cool stackable lunch box, which has an insulated bag and silverware.

Food Storage

There’s also a lot of cool ways to store the food you have and bring snacks. Instead of Ziploc-type bags, we bought some reusable zip-top plastic bags that can simply be washed in between uses. Stasher bags are awesome, but they’re expensive. These cheap ones from Amazon worked fine for us (although not as thick/sturdy as the Stasher ones) and are a great intro to reusable storage.

Another free food storage is reusing glass jars! I wash and sanitize spaghetti sauce jars, coconut oil jars, etc. and use them for leftover sauces, tea, coffee, broth, or anything that fits. They’re also great to take camping, so that you can bring smaller portions of items from home and either wash and reuse or recycle.

Water & Beverage Bottles

Everybody’s got a hydroflask these days, but it’s still worth mentioning. I have a large and small one, so I can leave the house with a cup of coffee, some homemade sparkling water, etc. and a big container of water too. My husband also recently bought this very cool coffee-cup-style mug, which I use almost every day. Once COVID is over, too, most cafes and coffee shops are expected to start accepting personal cups again, so it will be great for that too!

Travel Silverware & Straws

We seem to generally be in agreement about leaving plastic straws behind for the sea turtles, but we throw out a lot of silverware too. My lunchbox comes with silverware, but I tucked in a metal straw too and sometimes bring a travel cutlery pack with me too. I chose this one, which has a bamboo fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks, and is super easy to travel with. I also threw in a short metal straw like this one too.

Compost & Recycling

Composting is my dream. We still haven’t done so, but have started a garden outside that will be using the compost we will eventually be producing upstairs in our kitchen. However, we do have a separate recycling bin, trash, and space for a compost bin when the time comes. For us, it’s not about being perfect – it’s just about doing what is in our power, budget, and daily routine that can make a small impact in the world we live in.

Posted in entrepreneur, Spoken Word

We’re Supposed to Change

As I’ve navigated the first few months of being 30, I’ve noticed a constant dialogue surrounding the idea of change. Our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our old hometown/high school acquaintances – I’ve encountered the same old phrase consistently: “wow, you/he/she has really changed.”

This is usually commented in an off-hand, slightly negative way, with the underlying meaning seeming to be, “wow, you’ve let life change you. wow, money/success has really changed you. wow, you’ve lost your way to yourself because of a/b/c.”

My reaction to this type of comment is usually, “what do you mean by that?” to which I almost never get a response, since people don’t tell you that you (or someone else) have/has changed as a compliment. What they’re doing is trying to say something they don’t feel comfortable saying without actually saying it, and assuming you’ll understand the meaning so they can wipe their hands clean of their intent.

I’ve never understood our cultural resistance to change in the first place. When someone states, “wow, you’ve changed!” my internal response is “you haven’t?” We should change in significant ways over decades of time. We should learn and grow from our mistakes and heartbreaks and mishaps – that’s the whole point of living a life in the first place. If we’re not changing over time, than what on earth are we doing?

In theory, change should be a fluid and celebrated part of life. We should ebb and flow on our way to who we really are, learning lesson after lesson as we encounter mistake after mistake. I realize that people usually mean “wow, you’ve changed!” to indicate that we’ve somehow betrayed ourselves; by changing our political views, our values, integrity, personality, or what’s most important. But I’ll argue that those things too, should be subject to change as we change as people over time.

First of all, the only person that knows our internal values, morals, items of importance, etc. is us. Ourselves, only. Not our friends, or peers, or co-workers or even family members or parents. No matter how we are raised or what values are instilled in us, we are still individual human beings that have a duty to uncover those gems for ourselves.

Secondly, if we are not supposed to change the big-ticket items, who is determining them? Where do our unchangeable morals and values come from? We start off as children and are taught those things by our parents, teachers, friends and society. We should not be beholden to the values of other people that we were instilled in childhood, and never be able to think critically enough to decide them on our own.

Lastly, we are changing, whether we want to recognize it or not. Over time, your cells are changing. Your brain is changing. Your hormones are changing. Your body is changing.

Just like they do for every. other. species. on. planet. earth.

Even at just 30 years old, I’m changing rapidly. Being a business owner – especially during a pandemic – has been like an internal-change pressure cooker. We’re learning so much and learning to deal and endure so much that it is logistically impossible for us not to change. Change is still scary, but so is everything else. We have to learn to deal with fear and change in order to move towards a better world.

The next time someone says, “wow, you/she/he has changed!” I’m inviting myself to openly answer, “of course I/they have. That’s life. We’re supposed to change.”

Posted in Spoken Word

Growth

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I sense myself changing,
Ebbing and flowing
Like a river,
Smoothing out the rougher patches of my being.
I feel my spirit
Stretching forth and coming through,
Like the hips of a teenager
Making themselves known.
I know what no longer serves me
Because what I’ve outgrown
Is no longer comfortable.
I notice now
The nuances I did not before;
I hear what you’re really saying
Woven slyly among your words,
And I understand
Exactly
And can no longer be fooled
By pretty-winged things
That do not fly.

Posted in Travel

Travel Tuesday: Munich, Germany


I know I fall in love easily – but in Munich, Germany, I fell hard. By the end of my first day in this sprawling, clean-cut, surprisingly green city, I was googling jobs and housing prices because I was about 80% ready to move there. It really was that damn cool.

As a German myself, I felt like Munich captured all of my favorite things and activities in one beautiful, well-planned city. Here’s a few of my favorite Munich things….

The Trails

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I loved Munich’s spider-web system of forested parks, tucked into every available nook, cranny and corner throughout the European/art/industrial-style city.

I went on a 7 mile run through the Oktoberfest grounds and found path upon path that crossed a city street and led me into a suspiciously forest-like trail to yet another city street and yet another forested trail and felt like I could just run to my heart’s content.

 

 

The Bikes


It was wonderful that a big and busy city like Munich had, on every single street, lanes for cars, a lane for bikes, and a lane for walkers and joggers. That’s the other thing I loved – the bikes. People rode bikes everywhere and to seemingly every type of thing. I saw people lugging groceries home from the farmer’s market, in heels and crisp office attire and suits casually riding home with friends. I saw baskets packed with baguettes and wine, stopped in the park for an impromptu picnic.

The Beer Gardens 

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These very magical things called Beer Gardens are so cool, and so, so German. They’re outdoor bars with big, wooden tables and benches tucked into large, gorgeous parks. Some serve gigantic portions of beer and homemade pretzels (yes, please!) while others offer German ice cream, donuts, or a full dinner spread. The gardens were packed with tourists and locals alike, and everyone seemed so settled and relaxed. It’s been a dream of mine to down a glass of beer bigger than my face in the middle of a beautiful park, and alas, it has come true. Thank you, München!

The Surfing

YES, you read that right.

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People surf – yes, with a surfboard and wetsuit and everything – on the river that winds its way through the city. It seemed that the river mouth at this particular nook of the park created an artificial wave, which could be hopped on and ridden with a surfboard. We walked past it without realizing what it was, and were drawn by the crowds of onlookers and very out-of-place gang of barefoot teenage boys, surfboards in hand, that flocked off the bus.

When I saw the surfing, I totally freaked out. This is when the google research for my future relocated to Munich began. Biking, running, surfing, garden-beer-drinking – what more could a girl want? I mean, really?


The food was equally amazing, but will have to wait for another post, because I have too much excitement and way too many pictures.

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Posted in Travel

Travel Tuesday: Kohalpur, Nepal


A short month ago, I embarked on my first faith-based mission trip to rural Nepal. I flew from Honolulu, Hawaii to Los Angeles, California, to spend a half-day with my family and meet the rest of the crew I’d be working with. A lot of my team I already knew, though – my aunt and two cousins, whom I adore and keep in touch with anyways. I’d met everyone else briefly through our zoom trainings and was thrilled to match the online personas to the people in real life.


Since I had only about 10 hours to visit with my mom, brother and sister, my dad, an airline pilot, breezed through international security and hung out with us at the gate before we boarded a brutal 14-hour flight to Guangzhou, China. After Guangzhou, we’d hop on a five-hour flight to Khatmandu, Nepal’s bustling capital, and take a short and rickety flight to Kohalpur, where we’d be staying throughout our trip.


Flights are pretty brutal, and 14 hours is even tougher. Thankfully, I packed plenty of melatonin, vegan protein bars and protein shakes, along with some small kine snacks. I downed some melatonin and magically slept almost the entire flight.


As you can imagine, we were all jetlagged, grumpy, groggy and gross by the time we finally made it to our quaint little hotel in Kohalpur’s busy center. Kohalpur is a small, third world city, nestled amongst a jigsaw of smaller towns and farmlands. I’d already fallen in love with Nepali food thanks to the wonderful Himalayan Kitchen in Honolulu, and I got to rekindle and deepen that love with our first beautiful meal at the hotel. I knew that I’d be spoiled rotten with gorgeous breads, curries and rice throughout our trip, which I loved.


Each day, we launched from the hotel and ventured out into our various villages, which I’ll get into on the next post 🙂 This was such an overwhelming, humbling, healing, and once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m thrilled to share 🙂

Happy travels,

Nicole

Posted in spiritual, Veg/Vegan

Finding My Path & Purpose

 

Life has been a blur these days. If you haven’t noticed, my posts have been few and far between, yet so much life has happened between the cracks. I’ve quit my dream job as a Development Coordinator at a non-profit, and started my own business with my boyfriend. I went to Germany with my family, embarked on my first faith-based mission trip to Nepal, and have gone vegan. I’ve changed up my life, and every step has been for the better.

Going to Nepal absolutely deserves its own post – if not several – but I will say this: it was incredibly humbling and healing. My faith and relationship with God have deepened and strengthened, and I felt my head clear and my heart open to the path and purpose God intends for me. Part of that includes having confidence in my business endeavors and the abilities I’ve been gifted, and cultivated in the professional sphere.


Another part of my deepened faith is a recommitment to veganism. In working to make a positive impact in Nepal, I had a difficult time coming back to normal life in Hawaii and working for myself. I wanted to keep working for good and for God, and reducing the harm I contribute to is one way to do so.


My goal in this life is to do as much good and as little harm as a I can, to people, the planet, and other creatures alike. That includes treating others with kindness and patience, and understating where their hurt comes from. This love for other people – even strangers, far away, and very different from myself – is what’s continued to drive me to recommit to a plant-based diet. For the animals, yes, but also for the people living in communities polluted by animal agriculture, those working under harsh conditions in factory farms, etc. We all spend our time and thoughts searching for our purpose. While mine isn’t completely crystal clear, I know I’m meant to do good in any way I can. Right now, and through the rest of my days.

To more posts and positivity,

Nicole ❤

Posted in Travel


It’s been a few years since I’ve set foot in Europe, after a few beautiful trips to Belgium, France, Italy & Prague. I absolutely adore everything about Europe. The cobblestone streets, the crisp air, brick and mortar bridges, towering castles and bustling cities. On some lucky nights I drift off and dream im wandering down a century old street sipping an espresso and immersing myself in the rich and wide ranging language sand cultures.


This week, my family and I hopped on a cramped flight to Detroit and flew standby to Munich, Germany. By some magical trick of luck, we not only made it there on our first attempt, but my mom, sister and I landed the last three seats on the aircraft. Which, even luckier, happened to be in first class.


My life has changed so much since my last European adventure, and it was incredible to venture that way again in such over the top luck and luxury. 


What was also awesome was the breadth of vegan options in first class. Along with my champagne, I dined on a fresh greens salad, a mix of warm nuts, and summer squash, tomato and vidalia onion tart. For dessert, they didn’t have much, but they did have fresh fruit and fig compote – sans the selection of fine cheeses – and poof! Vegan dessert, y’all.


ALSO, breakfast. BREAKFAST! 
I was a vegetarian on my previous rendezvous across the continent, so I’m excited to see what Germany and Prague have in store for me as a vegan. 
I’m blessed, thankful and beyond lucky to be on this magical trip. Travel brings out the best in all of us, and so much truth, peace and clarity.
Happy travels!

Nikki

Posted in Thoughts

Missing Hikes & Simpler Life

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A few months ago, I had a serious epiphany at work that shook me to my core. I was sitting in my cubicle grinding away on a grant application, munching on processed snacks and downing my third cup of coffee when I realized something. Or rather, many many legitimately scary things:

This isn’t who I want to be.

This isn’t my path, or purpose….

This is not the way I’m meant to live.

I’m not spoiled, naïve, or unrealistic. I know I need to earn money to pay bills and make a living. I get it. However, that doesn’t mean that working full time is the only way to do so.

After that day, I cut my hours down to part time, got a job teaching soccer at various preschools, and found myself with an abundance of time. Time to hike, run, train, surf, play, read, write, nap….you name it, I could do it.

Living that was beautiful, simple, and stress free. As you might expect, it wasn’t all that lucrative. I struggled and blossomed all at once, and realized I had a more important dream than doing nothing: creating a career I love by building my own business.

My boyfriend and I started our own company – a real, adulty, official LLC. It’s been lots of late nights, early mornings, crazy afternoons and jam packed work. I have less time now to surf and hike and play than I ever have, but the fulfillment of building and working for our own life is radically different than working for someone else’s dreams. We’re chasing our own, and even the daily grind of constant tasks and small fires are fulfilling on a much deeper level.

Running a business and keeping up our side jobs is a lot of work, but it’s not a lot of stress. We’re physically tired, but we’re spiritually vibrant and mentally sharp. We’re worn out, but we’re happy. We don’t have as much time to go to the beach or hike or adventure, but every day is filled with a different kind of fun and satisfaction.

Our lives aren’t simple right now, but we’re building a foundation for a happier, simpler, and easier life for the rest of our time here on this earth – one hand-laid brick at a time.

Cheers to the end game,

Nikki

Posted in Eating, Veg/Vegan

The Small Kine Vegan


As you all probably know, I’ve been a vegetarian on & off for over five years now. I love it, I dig it, I do it, and have totally found my groove and established the habits to keep it that way. However, being a vegetarian – and not a vegan – has it’s benefits. Mostly that I can eat cheese, which means that friends can make mac n cheese when I come over, I can share pizza with my boyfriend, and have a breadth of options when I eat out.

But here’s the thing – morally, I don’t think my convenience to myself and others is worth the suffering of other beings. I don’t think it’s fair that animals have to suffer and die so I can eat a slice of pizza or order an omelet at brunch. Plus, there’s the health issues I have always had digesting dairy. I’ve gone vegan a couple dozen times in the past five years, for these exact reasons. And given all the major life changes I’ve made lately to boldy craft the life I want – quitting my job, starting a business, and completely changing up my life – this is the last piece of the old me i’d like to kick to the curb.

I decided to do a 30 day vegan challenge, just to ease myself into this new lifestyle and make it fun and exciting. I’m proud to fall asleep each night feeling light, healthy, and cruelty-free. I’m on a culinary adventure to try new things and swaps, and have found everything hauntingly simple and easy. Since I’ve done it before, it’s territory I know well.

So far, I’m incredibly healthy and happy – as if I’ve taken a large moral weight off my shoulders, because, well, I have. I feel that I’m living truly, honestly, and according to my values, embodying more of the person I’m truly meant to be.

Here’s a typical day for me (with a work shift in between, to keep it reals) of well-rounded, plant-based, super-yummy delicious vegan meals. I’m going small kine vegan, one day at a time 🙂