When I look back at the moments of my life where I felt like I was accomplishing major goals and living out my dreams, those moments were always driven by me being able to submerge myself in visualization and manifestation techniques such as intention setting, creating vision boards, and dream books. That is why I was super excited when my close friend and long time publicist Christina Rice (Founder of Omnoire) and I decided to come together to hold our first Vision Board & Manifestation workshop.
On January 20, the Pretty Powerful You Vision Board and Manifestation workshop came to life at Live Primary, a wellness co-working space in Battery Park. Over 100 attendees from 6 different states joined us and life coach La Shell Wooten for an inspiring day that included a private breakfast, an intimate conversation, feng shui tips, an affirmation wall and vision board creation.
During the intimate chat, some of the attendees revealed some of their personal struggles and obstacles that they were attempting to overcome with suggestions and words of advice from La Shell. (She’s my personal life coach by the way!) Christina also revealed that she is very picky about who she allows in her home due to the emotional debris that people can bring into your personal space, and La Shell added the Feng Shui tip of keeping your entry way clean and clear of clutter so that your home is welcoming for the visitors that you do allow into your space.
“Your home has to be prepared to disarm everyone’s baggage at the door.”
A highlight for me was when one of my readers admitted that she was mad at me when I first closed down my former celebrity gossip site, but when I launched my new site, xoNecole, she said, “oooooh, she’s not gossiping anymore, then I can’t be gossiping. I have to do better too!” We all laughed, and then cheered as she revealed that her peeling away from reading the gossip blogs helped her finish school and get the job she wanted. Sis, was flourishing!
These are the moments I live for. Experiences that allow me to meet readers face to face and create moments of bonding and sisterhood.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a note on here.
This year, my life has undergone some major changes. 2017 has grown me, shifted me, and evolved me. So much has been happening behind the scenes and I can’t wait to reveal some of the things I have in store for you.
But, before I do, there is something important that I want to say…
I’m a New Yorker now!
Today makes it a week since I made the official move to New York City.
Yes, I moved back to the East Coast. Yes, this is really happening and yes, I’ve started over, once again.
While pursuing my goals and dreams, I’ve moved so many times that you’d think I could do this with my eyes closed. But what made this time so different from the other cross-country and state-to-state moves I’ve made in the past, is that I decided to forgo any sort of relocation services. This time, I got rid of almost everything I owned.
The decision to downsize was influenced by a call I received from a very successful friend while I was looking for the most inexpensive option for a mover. She revealed to me that she was losing her passion in life and in her career and she felt stagnant.
My friend wanted to move across the country but, to her surprise, a relocation service gave her a quote of almost $20,000, which immediately shattered her plans to uproot and leave. The accumulation of clothes, high-end furniture, her office equipment, and her car would cost her tens of thousands of dollars to take with her.
For months, she put off moving and existed in a space of unhappiness in her career and life.
After we hung up, I was reminded that we can easily become enslaved by the accumulation of material things that have no real value in our lives. The book The Happiness Project, as well as the documentary, The Minimalist, teaches us the concept of decluttering. It has been proven that living with less and having fewer possessions improves the quality of our lives tremendously.
So, why do we hold on to these things?
After taking inventory of the various items I was attempting to drag across the country with me, I realized that wasn’t the best move. There were a bunch of things I had accumulated through my different moves over the last few years that had no real value to me.
The furniture and appliances could be replaced.
The books donated.
Most of the bags, shoes, and clothes that I owned were collecting dust and represented the person I used to be.
But I wasn’t that woman anymore.
It was in that moment that I remembered a quote I heard Devi Brown mention, “A snake that cannot shed its skin will perish,” and it clicked for me.
If I truly wanted to start a new chapter, I’d have to shed myself of my old skin and everything that no longer served me.
That would include friendships, relationships, and material things. When one of your goals in life is to climb the mountain of success, the higher the climb, the heavier the burden of useless things will weigh on you.
It’s almost impossible to grow without eliminating.
I had to get rid of it all.
Over a two-week period, I sold all of my furniture, donated the bulk of my clothes and appliances to homeless shelters, and I dropped my car off to Carmax where they wrote me a check on the spot. Getting rid of my car was probably the hardest decision to make because it was on my vision board for a long time before I purchased it as a Christmas gift to myself in 2012. But I’m a true believer and a testament that what you are willing to give up and sacrifice for your dreams will eventually be restored tenfold. I had no use for it in New York or in the new part of my journey.
On Tuesday, July 18, I showed up at JFK with suitcases filled with everything else I owned. The only things I felt I truly needed.
I gave some of my books to one of my Instagram followers who just moved to Arizona.
I felt light.
I felt free.
Even a week later, I realize now that I don’t miss any of the things that I gave up.
I am telling this story because I wanted to connect with others who might be on a similar path, caught in the middle with a similar conundrum. If you are at a place in life where you feel stuck, uncomfortable, or the energy in your home just does not feel right, consider doing a purge.
Purging means getting rid of anything that has outlived its purpose in your life and is no longer in alignment with your current path.
This could be a closet clean out, clearing out storage spaces, and it can even mean ending relationships and friendships that hinder you more than they serve you.
You’ll find that once you declutter, purge and let go of things that don’t align with where you want to go and who you want to be, life will begin to open up and change for the better.
P.S. There are just 5 rooms left for the Glow Up Wellness Retreat in October. If you are in need of a relaxing and exhilarating weekend surrounded by empowering women, click here to find out how you can join us!
I have some exciting news for my readers who desire an empowering and memorable travel experience mixed with self-care, wellness and adventure.
I’ve partnered with my wonderful friends at OMNoire for their first annual “Glow Up” Wellness Retreat, which will be held on October 5-9, 2017 in Grenada, West Indies.
This revitalizing and empowering four-day weekend will include, daily yoga and meditation sessions, inspiring brunch and dinner discussions with entrepreneurs, yoga instructors, fitness enthusiasts, and global travelers around topics that include: Power of Purpose, Creating a Life You Love Through Positive Affirmations, Living Life With Intention and more as well as exhilarating adventures around the island such as Grenada by Land & Sea, Waterfall Hikes, Island-style partying, a Beach Bonfire Party, Snorkeling and more.
I am huge on self-care and taking time to recharge and I truly believe you will enjoy this awesome opportunity to bond with like-minded creatives, entrepreneurs and business women for a weekend to remember.
Still undecided? Here’s a few more reasons you may want to attend:
Discover the raw beauty of Grenada, one of most untapped islands in the Caribbean.
Learn why Ebony Magazine recommends “The Spice Island” as your next vacation getaway.
All you have to do is show up.
Packages (exclusive of airfare) include most meals, all events on the schedule (unless otherwise noted), ground transportation, daily yoga and meditation sessions, and more. Packages HERE.
Escape your daily grind.
Enjoy a weekend of empowering breakfast discussions, day time adventures, dinner talks and nightlife parties. Daily adventures include Grenada By Land and Sea. Schedule HERE.
Travel with girlfriends or travel solo
Meet like-minded women who share your love of health, wellness & adventure, and forge connections that will last a lifetime.
We’ve designed this experience with YOU in mind.
There is no other retreat that will stretch and grow you in areas you’ve never imagined…with a whole lot of fun, adventure, good food and camaraderie in between!
Confirmed speakers include myself, Necole Kane (CEO, xoNecole.com), Christina Rice (co-founder of OMNoire, founder LuxeLife Media & LuxeLife Adventures); Amber Forrester (co-founder of OMNoire, founder of Kane & Couture and Crowned & Brown); and Kered Clement (British Grenadian, travel journalist, digital strategist and content creator), with more to be announced!
Packages start at $1,400 with the first deposit of $750 due at time of booking by August 30th. Receive a 5% discount if your package is paid in full.
“It takes courage to push yourself to places you have never been before…to test your limits…to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin
There are things, people, places and events that change you.
EmpowerHer17 was that event for me.
This year, the 2-day conference was hosted in Chicago and brought together a room of more than 300 women who were there to inspire, network and hear insightful career advice from black millennial business women, entrepreneurs and influencers. The conference was hosted by Gia Peppers and included appearances and insight from everyone like Zim Ugochukwu of Travel Noire, to actress/producer Lena Waithe, blogger/author Luvvie Ajayi, and Allied Moxy SVP Erika Bennett.
Back in March, Blavity founder Morgan Debaun reached out to me to ask if I’d appear at the conference, and my first response was that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a keynote or even speaking at the conference because I was still knee-deep in my transition. I hadn’t fully reached my personal goals when it came to my new xoNecole website, and I was still in a state of laying low and doing the dirty work quietly while I patiently built my brand.
I’m a huge believer that every season won’t be your season.
There are some seasons that you sit out, and plant your seeds and there are others were you harvest.
I was still in my planting season.
I was also going through a personal transition behind-the-scenes as well. I was toying with the idea of venturing into Health & Fitness after winning two trophies in my first ever fitness competition. Training for the competitions as well as educating friends and loved ones on healthier, lifesaving eating habits had become a huge passion of mine and I felt as though God was leading me into a new territory. I was studying to become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, as well as Wellness Coaching and I was pretty happy. I was actually elated. New doors and opportunities were opening for me and I knew at some point I had to make a decision on if I still wanted to run and expand the xoNecole brand on my own, or if I was going to hand it off to someone else and take yet another leap in the pursuit of happiness and living my dreams.
But there was still this urge and fire in me to leave my shell and get out in front of my audience. Participating in the conference would give me the opportunity to engage with my readers and people who have been following me a long time face-to-face and get their feedback. I needed that energy and so I accepted the invitation.
I’m glad I did. Speaking at the conference moved me.
Talking to the women who had tears in their eyes as they told me how much they resonated with my story, admired my transition and needed my transparency moved me.
I needed that.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the work we do and the affect it has on others, to keep pushing.
That’s what the conference did for me.
Here are 6 important questions and topics that people may have had that I answered during the fireside chat:
Why I Left My Gossip Brand
It was time.
When you settle into just existing in a space, it’s time to move on.
7 is the number of completion and I was inching towards my eighth year. I was no longer the woman I was when I started the brand and I was no longer interested in most of the news and topics we were covering. I had lost my fire. I had lost my passion and my readers could sense it. The longer I continued to run the site and keep up with those things that I was outgrowing, it would continue to stunt my growth as a woman.
The truth is, when your career is to report breaking news on other people’s lives, you end up subconsciously living your own life as a spectator. I always hear the saying, “you are what you consume”, and since I was consuming celebrity gossip, violence, drama, divorces, suicides and very negative news every hour of the day, I was becoming that. It was in conflict with the person I wanted to be.
I remember being so filled with angst, depression and anxiety all of the time and I thought it was because I had experienced so many deaths in my family. When I finally sought a therapist, she revealed that I had second hand PTSD from the news we were reporting. That was eye-opening to me. I had to wonder if it had that type of effect on me, what effect was the news we were publishing having on the site’s visitors?
Once I realized this, I knew I would have to let go of my old brand if I honestly wanted to live a fulfilling life full of joy, happiness and love. As most woman desire once they are in their 30s, I wanted balance. I wanted to nurture my friendships and have time to enjoy weddings, birthdays and baby showers. I wanted to be able to unplug for a few days without the fear of missing something or falling off. I wanted to be present in the presence of people I cared about dearly versus having to check my phone every few minutes. Finally, I wanted to launch a site that was the vitamin my audience didn’t know they needed. One full of inspiration, empowering stories and career advice to help my readers live their best lives. That’s what I wanted my legacy to be able and I do feel xoNecole.com has and is still accomplishing that.
Why I didn’t sell NecoleBitchie.com
In 2013, before the site reached it’s peak, I was negotiating a $1.3 -2 million deal to sell my brand to a well-known media company. I didn’t really entertain the offer for too long because at the time the fact that I built the brand from the bottom up meant more to me than a million dollar paycheck and I knew there was so much more work to do to get it to a place where it wasn’t just known for “salacious gossip.” A few years later, I remember reaching out to one of my friends who had sold her site for advice and I will never forget what she told me. She said:
“I wish I had sold for more. When anyone comes to you with an offer, believe that you are worth 2-3 times as much as that initial offer. You have to know your worth. After taxes, paying out lawyers and business managers, those checks won’t last long but your brand and your legacy is what can last forever.”
That always stuck with me. I eventually closed NecoleBitchie.com versus selling it because I knew that if I sold it, I would no longer have control over that particular brand’s content or legacy. As long as the site stayed up and running on the web, I’d always be known as the personality behind it and that was counterproductive to my growth and the places I wanted to go as I continued to evolve in my life.
How I still push on in the face of adversity after losing both of my parents
My mom was a staple in my life when it came to picking up the phone and having someone I could talk to. Before she died, I was calling her to catch up every single day on my lunch break at work. The last time I ever talked to her on the phone, I remember asking her “Are you going to die?” and she fell silent. In that moment, all the petty things I used to stress over no longer mattered. She was 41 at the time of her death (my father was 42). The concept of “Life is short” is very real to me.
At the conference, I cried as I revealed for the first time ever that it hurts me the most that my parents never had the chance to see me be successful. While they were alive, I was moving from house to house, staying with different friends, sleeping on couches, trying to finish school, dabbling into different interests and really trying to find myself. To achieve success and not be able to share that with loved ones has been excruciating. It’s been one of the root causes when I fall into stages of depression. I think there is a sense of guilt there, like I had to do a trade off in life and sometimes I feel it’s extremely unfair. But I know that things happen for a reason and I try not to dwell on the “why me?”
Moving back home doesn’t always mean you’ve failed
Before I started NecoleBitchie.com, I was dead broke, the IRS had frozen my bank account due to some back taxes and I had no choice but to move back to my hometown and live with an aunt. One of the audience members revealed that she recently found herself in the same situation, and she wanted to know how I was able to stay positive and still have enough hope to get myself out of that situation and eventually achieve success.
A lot of people equate moving back home and returning to the place you started as failure. I no longer look at it that way. Sometimes you need to take a few steps backwards to regroup, re-strategize and push forward and sometimes going back home is the best option for you to get back on your feet. Last year, I was consulting a fellow blogger that had moved to LA and each day she spent commuting to a job she hated was pushing her further and further from her dream. She felt as though all of her goals were impossible. We both agreed that her moving back to the East Coast would probably be the best decision, and within a 9 month period, she relaunched her website, wrote a few e-books, traveled to 3 countries, and was being booked for speaking engagements around the country. Giving herself permission to go back home and regroup, helped her to get back in alignment with her passions and propel herself into the next level of her career.
I always tell people when moving back home, give yourself a time period.
If you know that you only want to be home for six months, you will move differently and start taking the necessary steps to map out a plan to get you out of there in those 6 months. I didn’t have a time frame in mind when I first went home so my aunt did the best thing she could have ever done for me, and gave me one. Just as my brand was growing a little, she told me I could only stay for another month and I was devastated. I left that weekend and moved to Atlanta where I slept on a friend’s couch and my career started to take off. I am now mature enough to know that her kicking me out was not personal. As much as it may have hurt her, she was removing the crutch from underneathe of me so that I had no choice but to be uncomfortable and walk on my own two feet. I probably wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t made that tough decision.
Sacrifices and Discomfort Are Only Temporary
This wasn’t really a question but an add on to the young lady who had to move back home recently. Having to move back home, sleep on couches, borrow money and those type of things are all temporary if you are extremely focused on accomplishing your dreams. The problem with temporary, is having the patience and faith to know that things will work out without really knowing when it will happen. Whatever you have to give up and sacrifice for your dream, you have to trust and believe that it will be restored in due time. I made it a point at the conference to reveal that I had recently made the decision to move back to New York. I’ve lived in NYC three times already and have never been comfortable living there ever but it’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make for the goals I have for my brand. I also made it a point to reveal that even though I have a loft I love in Arizona, my dream car (that was on my 2009 vision board and is completely paid off), and I live a very comfortable lifestyle, it’s important that I sell my furniture, car, and most of my things before I leave.
Sometimes on the path of success we accumulate all of these material things that we think matter, and realize how much of a burden they are when we want to maneuver freely and chase new levels.
Please understand, when you achieve success, you are not the car you drive, amazing house you live in, and clothes you wear. You are your legacy and you have to decide what that is going to be. Nobody is gonna talk about any of the stuff you own in your eulogy at your funeral when you are no longer here. Instead they will talk about the impact you had on their lives.
It’s okay to unplug and take a break
We are currently in a social media obsessed culture were people feel as though if they aren’t constantly sharing pieces of their day, and themselves, that people will forget about them. The same goes for the entertainment industry and the thriving market of influencers who’ve built social media based brands. It may be tempting to attend every party, and post photos with celebs or other people with huge followings in order to feel relevant but at some point it will become a bit counterproductive if there isn’t other work being done to grow your business or brand. If you are at every event, or constantly on social media sharing your life or plugging into everyone else’s lives, when do you have time to create? When do you have time to be inspired? When do you have time to do meaningful purposeful work that means something?
And sometimes you need to take a break period.
I learned this the hard way when I transitioned out of NecoleBitchie.com and I rushed to launch xoNecole.com six weeks later. Instead of taking months or even a year or two to rest, gather my thoughts, live in my moments and then really map out the new site and produce really great work, I just rushed into launching something else in fear that I would lose my audience or they would forget about me. The end result was chaos, stress and I lost a lot of money. A TON of money.
Although we were mapped out the content, hired editors and writers, and figured out how we would market the new brand, I don’t think we fully thought through how the site would gain revenue since we weren’t a part of a network and launched with no in-house sales team. Do I regret the decision? No, I don’t…because sometimes you just have to say ‘f-ck it’ and take the leap and figure it out later, however, I do think we could have planned the launch of the site just a little better.
7 months after we launched, I eventually downsized my staff, regrouped, refocused and restrategized. When updating the site with new features, we focused more on quality over quantity, and instead of seeking out writers for the site, I started focusing on everyday women who had empowering stories to tell.
I also took a year off of doing speaking engagements, appearances and industry events so that I could work on self-care, travel, compete in fitness competitions and slow down and live a little.
I’m in a happier space now and I feel like I’m ready to get back out there, create, expand my brand and thrive! The best part of it all is that I’m viewing the world through a completely different lens.
That was the gist of my 60 minute chat at Empowerher17 (although I have elaborated a little more here 🙂 )
Thank you guys for reading!
I highly recommend investing in attending at least one conference a year if you are serious about learning from people in your field as well as growing your network. Don’t forget your business cards and keep in touch with your contacts. (I’m still working on this!) Something beautiful may come from it.
1) Don’t allow yourself to be restricted by rules. To live a liberated life of your dreams, you’ll eventually break every single one of them.
2) Never say never
Two years ago, I said I would never live in New York or the surrounding area again.
As a backstory, I’ve lived in Union City (10 Minutes outside of midtown Manhattan) in 2007, Downtown Brooklyn in 2010, and Union City again in 2013. The last time around, when my lease was up and I attempted to find another place to live in the city that didn’t require 2 full months rent for the security deposit, would give me the luxury of having a washer and dryer in the apartment, and parking that didn’t require me to have to wake up 1-2 times a week to move my car to another block because of street cleaning, I failed. In comparison, I went to LA for a week and found a spacious apartment with tons of natural lighting, basic luxuries, free garage parking and only required a $300 security deposit. I was on the West Coast before anyone I knew could throw a “going away” festivity.
I was out.
Over the years, I’ve always questioned why living in New York was so hard.
Eating healthy was the struggle.
Finding time to go to the gym was a struggle.
Self-care was a struggle.
Grocery shopping was a struggle.
Doing laundry if you weren’t the lucky few who had W/D in unit was a struggle.
Finding time to do anything outside of work and a little networking, was the struggle.
How did people over the age of 28 still do it?
After living in Arizona for two years, surrounded by Zen, energy healers, friendly neighbors, $25 dollar a month gym memberships and a list of luxuries, I said I could never go back to that lifestyle again.
And again, I lied.
In a few weeks, I will be moving to New York again. Although I started to believe I was going to spend the rest of my life tucked away in the desert living a very modest lifestyle, God had other plans for me. This year, I felt this overwhelming jolting feeling that I was settling for comfort. That I hadn’t even come close to walking in my fullest capacity of greatness, and that this calm, clarity-filled, healthy life that I was currently living, as beautiful as it was, was pulling me further and further away from the purpose-filled life that I was destined to live.
So when career opportunities started presenting themselves, especially those that scared the crap out of me, I knew it was time to embark on a new journey, and my time here was finally coming to an end.
As I pack up my things, and leave my peaceful life behind in Arizona, here’s how I have decided I will be navigating New York differently:
1. Create a self-care routine in the mornings
One of the first things I did when I realized there was a possibility I would be returning to New York was call a friend and ask her, “How do you exercise self-care?” I needed to know between the constant rush of subways, her job, attending network events and rushing from one place to the next, how she was able to create time to love on herself. Her answer was simple, “This city doesn’t have a collective curfew, so I make sure I always get up early and carve out time in the morning to find my center.”
For me, this will mean making sure I’m in the house by 9 and bed no later than 11 during the weekdays so that I can wake up during the magic hours between 4am and 6am when the city is sleeping. I plan to continue my morning self-care ritual that I currently have in Arizona which includes; opening my blinds, prayer, journaling, aromatherapy with essential oils, cooking breakfast, and listening to a few chapters of an audio book or podcast — all before checking my phone to make sure I’m grounded and centered before I plug into the real world.
2. Get to know my neighborhood, my neighbors and have staples
The one thing I’ve come to love about living in a not so major city like Scottsdale, Arizona is that people actually make eye contact and engage with you when you walk in stores, restaurants or pass each other in elevators. Most of the restaurants I frequent remember my order, and my UPS guy makes sure there is a bowl of fresh tootsie rolls in the front of the store every time I come to pick up my mail. I love the familiarity of it all.
I realize I can create a similar atmosphere in a big city like New York if I make time to really get to know my neighborhood. Frequenting the same coffee shops and bodegas often and taking time to make eye contact with people, as well as engage in conversation will help me get to know my neighbors and the people who are serving me a nice warm latte each day.
3. Arrive everywhere early
I found myself flustered a lot during the times that I lived in New York, and I’m coming to terms that it was 90% my fault. I was flustered because I was always rushing and I was always rushing because I was always running late. During the recent week I spent in New York, I arrived to all of my meetings at least a half hour early and there was a noticeable difference in how calm and confident I was versus the times I’ve shown up on time or a few minutes late. Arriving to places early, regardless of if it’s an event, important job interview, or dinner meeting, gives you time to settle in, scope out the atmosphere, and gather your thoughts which will boost your confidence and lead to better networking. Not to mention, it will leave a lasting impression.
4. A Social Circle Of Empowering Friends
While at the DC Broccoli Festival, I ran into “The Queen of Green” Yoli Ouiya who runs the healthy living blog Yoli’s Green Living. We instantly connected on our passion for self-care, crystal therapy and educating the community on healthier eating habits. When I mentioned I was toying with the idea of returning to New York, she told me she wanted to put together a sister circle of women who had similar interests in self-care and health for weekly meet ups and accountability check ins. That was music to my ears.
Aside from nurturing friendships with people who have similar lifestyle interests as I do, I also want to make sure I venture outside of my comfort zone and create friendships that empower me. I’ve sort of fell into the mentor role to a lot of people throughout my career and realized that although I had a lot of friends who looked up to me, I wasn’t establishing a lot of deeper connections and relationships with people I admired and looked up to. That is crucial in the pursuit of elevating higher.
5. Continue To Meal Prep, Indulge In Healthy Eating & Stay Fit
While we are on the subject of healthy eating, I can no longer allow myself to be on the one-meal-a-day diet that I adopted while working in the entertainment industry the previous three times I lived in New York. As entrepreneurs, at times we find ourselves so emerged in work that Breakfast and Lunch time passes us by and it’s not until late afternoon that we grab our first meal. An unhealthy meal at that. This go-round, meal prepping will be crucial to me sticking to a healthy diet. Better, healthier eating habits have become key to managing my energy, and has resulted in me being far more alert, creative and productive during the day.
I’m well aware, that grocery runs won’t be as quick and easy as they are where I’m currently living, however, the benefits of continuing my current meal prep routine will be well worth the effort.
Also, hitting the gym and releasing endorphins hasn’t just kept me uber fit, it has been the key to managing my stress levels. Finding a gym home and working out at least 3-4 times a week is going to be a crucial part of me keeping my peace.
6. Ditch The Car, Take The Subway
The last three times I lived in New York, I owned a car and instead of taking the subway, I drove, Uber’d, or Taxi’d my way around the city while racking up transportation and parking bills that rivaled rent prices.
This can not happen in 2017. I value saving for retirement, travel and living a life I don’t need to constantly escape from far too much. Taking the subway is not only much cheaper than all the other options that are available, you get places far quicker.
7. Spend More Time Networking
Dinner meetings, networking events, happy hour drinks, thank you notes and follow up emails are all crucial keys in building and nurturing your relationships in huge cities like New York. I remember being on the Rolling Out Female Success Tour in 2008 when I first heard Munson Steed proclaim, “Your network is your net worth.” I must admit, due to my social anxiety and awkwardness in social settings, I haven’t been the best networker in my career, but I am now challenging myself face my fears and go to more events, hand out more business cards and work the rooms when I return to the Big Apple.
8. Have A Thriving Personal Life
Work, life, love balance is very important to me in this stage of my life. During most of the 10 years of my career in entertainment, I didn’t date and most of my friends were my peers or business associates. Honestly, having solely these type of relationships can feel empty and almost a bit lonely in a city like New York. You find yourself only knowing bits and pieces of people and only catching up to go to parties, events and brunches together. I need something deeper to be fulfilled.
Now that my priorities in life have shifted to include more balance and the things that bring me joy, dating and getting to know people beyond surface level relationships is so important to me. This is a huge focus for me as I attempt to thrive in the next stage of my life and career.
I’m looking at New York through a different lens than I did before. My perspective has changed and my new New York chapter won’t be full of people I barely remember, at events I barely cared about. It’s going to mean something this time around.
Are you a current New Yorker or have you ever lived in New York at some point? Any suggestions on how I can navigate this fast paced scene and get the work/life balance I so dearly crave would be greatly appreciated!
Being a fashion blogger, influencer and/or face of your brand — even more expensive.
On any given day, you may scroll through your Instagram timeline and see women that you admire, dressed in the latest trends, looking “beat” to perfection and wonder, “why don’t I look like that on a daily basis?”
And the answer is simple. It takes work….and money!
When I was a gossip blogger, for the first few years, I’d attend events and appearances and I didn’t put much effort into what I looked like. I just didn’t care enough until I realized I was becoming the face of my brand. As my popularity grew and I became more visible, it became “a thing” for me to spend a ton of money on hair, make-up and wardrobe styling each time I attended an event or appearance. I owned a site that often covered celebs and their red carpet looks, so there was this added pressure to look just as good when I stepped out or I’d be subjected to the same type of critique as the celebs I covered.
It made the preparation for every event anxiety-ridden.
Lucky for me, now that I have shifted directions and rebranded, I don’t have that type of pressure anymore but I still like to look good ….and to do so on a budget.
This is why Rent The Runway and their unlimited program has been one of the best styling options I’ve stumbled upon. It’s an Influencer, Entrepreneur and Blogger’s best kept secret. (or maybe even worse-kept secret as fellow entrepreneurs Mattie James, Tiffany Battle and Myleik Teele all favor the service.)
Tiffany Battle in English Factory Varsity Coat from Rent The Runway Unlimited
Mattie James rocks a Solace London jumpsuit from Rent The Runway
Fashion Blogger Tiffany Battle in mixed prints from Rent The Runway
Fashion Influencer Tiffany Battle in Rent The Runway
How it works:
A regular membership to Rent The Runway will allow you to rent designer clothes for 4-8 days, however an unlimited membership to RTR will allow you to keep 3 designer pieces in your closet and exchange them anytime, for as long as you want for the low price of $139 a month. To give you a good example of how it allowed me to cut my shopping budget tremendously, during the month of November, I rented and returned a total of 8 pieces (a combination of dresses and coats) during that 30 day period. The retail price of the 8 pieces combined would have cost me over $4000. I only paid the $139 monthly fee, and that included the shipping costs and dry cleaning which Rent The Runway covers. The other reason I recommend it so much for women on the go is whether you work in an office, are an influencer, or CEO, you will never run out of clothing options and it saves tons of closet space.
Wearing a Suno crisp floral print dress from Rent the Runway
Wearing a Tory Burch dress from Rent The Runway
Over the last six months, I’ve smartened up a little, and have made it a thing to keep at least 3 pieces in my closet at all times that I can wear to a formal event, cocktail party or red carpet so I’m never scrambling to find things to wear last minute for events.
On Thursday, this came in handy as I hosted the xoNecole+ ORS Hair #NoStereotypes mixer in Chicago. I was finally able to get my hands on an Emanual Ungaro Garden Print dress that I’ve had saved in my hearts for at least 5-6 months now for the event. Totally beat the headache of last minute shopping at the mall or the cost of hiring a stylist.
Have you been paying close attention to what you pray, wish and hope for lately?
For me, it has most definitely been a life of balance. All of my prayers seem to revolve around a career that I’m passionate about, having amazing empowering friendships, a healthy lifestyle and a partner to share my life journey with.
The thing about prayers is, God answers them fairly quickly without us even realizing it. As we maneuver through life, wondering if he’s forgotten about us to tend to someone else, he is positioning us for the perfect moment to slam dunk on our #lifegoals.
The problem is, a lot of times, we are guilty of blocking our blessings when they come. For example, a huge job opportunity may come your way, one that’s far bigger than what you imagined and paying far more than you ever imagined you’d be making, and the first thought that runs through your head could be, “I don’t deserve this. I’m don’t have enough experience. I will mess this one up.“
We have to be conscious of the messages we continue to tell ourselves. Especially when they scream, “I’m not worthy!”
Normally this is caused by fear which paralyzes us from growing and becoming the person we are meant to be, with the career we are mean’t to have, and the life we are meant to live.
It is the same with relationships. I’m super guilty of saying, “God, I’m ready for my soul mate now. I’ve gotten myself together,” but the moment a guy approaches me, I throw out body language, hints and clues that I’m not available. When I am talking to or dating a guy who is phenomenal and I really start to like him, I create a million excuses of why he’s not the right one, or this isn’t the right time and talk myself right out of it going any further.
I always claim it’s my intuition but a lot of times, it’s really my fear.
My newest youtube vlog (which is really short and to the point) tackles this topic. It was inspired by a few situations that happened to me over the past few days. It also was inspired by me randomly meeting a guy just weeks after I said to myself, “Now I’m ready to date, meet guys and potentially be in a relationship.”
It’s Okay To Take A Break From Building Your Brand Without Feeling Guilt Or Shame
It’s not unusual to open up your social media feed to see hashtags like #thegrinddontstop and #sleepwhenIdie. And in those moments if you are kicking back and binging the latest season of “Orange Is The New Black” in footies smelling like yesterday, you may suddenly feel like you aren’t doing enough.
Nevermind that you may have worked overtime and spent hours of your day stuck in traffic, or even spent 50+ hours in a week working towards growing your brand, all while cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, trying to keep your relationship intact, and have an active presence on social media. In that moment that you chose to do absolutely nothing but enjoy your favorite chick flicks, you may suddenly experience a tinge of guilt.
You may also feel like you have no right to rest and should be grinding harder. That somehow success only comes to those who never sleep, barely eat, and don’t take vacations.
And that’s furthest from the truth.
A few years ago a successful friend of mine had invited me over to watch movies. As he ran down a list of titles, he was shocked that I hadn’t seen at least 90% of his favorite classics. I remember him saying, “You don’t watch movies?” and I responded, “I don’t have time. I’m normally working” ( aka I have better things to do with my time.)
His response was, “You need to live a little. You need to escape.”
That day I didn’t quite understand what he meant because I come from a work-obsessed culture who pegged the television the “Idiot box.” Escaping to me meant running off to a secluded island, or traveling to a foreign place, or even immersing myself into a good book — but a movie or binge watching a show, “Nah.” And even those things had to be done moderately because again, we are a culture of super talented, creative dreamers and entrepreneurs who are afraid to take breaks and vacations in fear of falling off. That there may be someone who works harder or is more talented that will slide in and take your place.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that burnout is counterproductive to growth. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your company or brand in the long-term.
In 2015, I experienced burnout and was exhausted beyond belief. After I closed down my site NecoleBitchie.com, I went to work immediately on a new site, xoNecole.com, that would launch just two months later. During an interview that I set up with CurlBox owner Myleik Teele who is one of my entrepreneur sheroes, I remember her saying, “I read somewhere that you recently took your first vacation after 6 years. I was like ‘Is she crazy??’ I took 10 vacations last year.”
I sat there shocked in all my burned out glory, with barely enough energy to be on the call, let alone transcribe and formulate the interview I was currently having into a well-written feature article. All I could think was, “10 vacations? What am I doing wrong?” After years of working non-stop, I barely had enough energy left in me to launch a new brand, yet Myleik was sitting on a thriving empire that included a subscription box service, opening her own warehouse, and a podcast and she had somehow managed to give herself permission to take 10 vacations in one year. It was very obvious of who had it all wrong, and who was doing things the right way.
And it wasn’t me.
That conversation was a blatant reminder that instead of refusing to get adequate sleep, or grinding non-stop, those moments when you are feeding your soul with the things you enjoy like that hour-long pilates class, that weight-lifting session, learning a new language, happy hour with friends, a movie night, an unplug day from social media, a vacation and even binging your favorite show, only lead to more productivity and creativity in your professional life which ultimately will help you become a better performer at work and better version of yourself.
And you should never feel guilty about those moments.
Just recently I went on a 7-day vacation to Thailand, and had a blast, but there was a lot of times during my trip where I felt guilty about the time I was taking away from my website. When I returned however, I felt relaxed, recharged, and I was bursting out the seams with new ideas and projects.
Let me say this:
You should never feel guilty about the things that make you happy.
You should never feel guilty about not giving your time and energy to other people before making sure that you are good mentally, spiritually and emotionally first.
You should not feel guilty for doing the things you love.
You should never feel guilty or selfish for indulging in self-care.
Self-care is a form of self-love and self love is asking yourself what you need every day and then making sure you receive it. That could be as simple as unplugging from everything, and doing absolutely nothing but catching up on some much needed rest, or enjoying your favorite show.
Because you deserve that.
“The shit that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes glow when you do it or talk about it, no matter if it’s hiking, yoga, gardening, painting, sex, meditation, photography, going for walks, helping others – do that. Do it as often as you can. Because that’s what life is about. Creating as many passionate, happy moments as possible. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing the things you love – not even yourself.” – Unknown
If you are an entrepreneur, do you find that you experience guilt when you take time off from growing your brand to do a few things you enjoy? What are ways you are practicing self-care? Let me know in the comments.
Those have been the running themes amongst jet setters, travelers and tribes of adventurers online over the past few years who believe self-discovery and living starts with venturing away from your comfort zone. The funny thing about it is when I was younger, I used to escape the small town I lived in through reading a massive amount of books that allowed me to live vicariously through characters in remarkable places that did remarkable things. Now that I am older, I realized that those books molded me and opened me up to living a life that was well-lived.
I have lived a lot of my life exploring, being adventurous and doing a lot of things I could have never imagined as a 12 year old but one thing I haven’t gotten the hang of yet has been solo travel. And I don’t mean the occasional trip to London (where I knew too many people to feel as though I was alone), or the trip I took to Vietnam (where I met 6 other travelers from New York.). I mean, venturing off to places with unfamiliar names, languages and faces and totally navigating the unfamiliar. An incident I had in Paris forever scarred me (and I’ll talk about that later.)
One of my favorite things to do is to travel with friends or a travel buddy.
Girls Trips are the JAM!!!
There is something about creating memories with others that I adore much more than the trips I’ve done alone. And it is the reason I am working on a travel project with my friends Rachel Hill (RachelTravels.com), Brittnie Anderson and Ashley Nguyen (GoYokococo). Our goal was to promote adventures, excursions and vacations that encourage bonding and sisterhood amongst women, all while raising money
On March 22, we hopped on a 20 hour flight across the world for a week-long workcation to Thailand where we visited Bangkok and Phuket. Initially we had planned to do Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai but after looking up the weather and seeing that both Bangkok and Chiang Mai temps were soaring in the high 90’s with humidity versus Phuket which had gorgeous mid-80 weather, we decided to save ourselves from misery and extend our time in Phuket.
How We Got There
Our airline of choice was Norwegian Air which currently offers 57 direct routes from the U.S. to Europe and the French Caribbean. I was super surprised that a lot of people didn’t know about Norwegian as they have some of the cheapest consistent airfares for international travel that I have seen. The reclining seats, oversized windows with dimmers, multiple meals, on-call flight attendants that you can summon with a click of a button from your seat, and in-flight entertainment made for a really easy flight. They also have just the right air pressure in the cabin of the plane so that prevents jet lag. When we got off the plane in Bangkok, it was 7am and despite sitting in traffic for an hour and a half, we were energized and ready to go once we got to the hotel.
Where We Stayed
**In an effort to not make this post extremely long, I’m going to break more details about each into separate posts because they were all too amazing for just a paragraph.**
137 Pillars: 137 Pillars and residence hosted us during our first two nights. The hotel and residences is brand spanking new and features studio, one and two bedroom suites. It also has an amazing gym, salon, roof top infinity pool and bar, great views of the city and a delicious restaurant on site. We split up into two groups with Rachel and I sharing a suite together, and Ashley and Brittnie sharing a suite. Besides the food, the highlight of this hotel was the glass walkway on the 27th floor. Can we say, adrenaline rush?
Sri Pawna: After a hectic two days in Bangkok, we needed a vacation from the vacation! Phuket was the answer.
In Phuket, we stayed in a huge 4-bedroom villa at Sri Panwa that featured two pools, a lobby-sized living room, steam rooms, jacuzzi’s and outside bathing areas. We were in heaven! The property also has multiple restaurants on site, and activities such as sunset cocktails, yoga, cooking classes, spa treatments and more. If you are going to do a girls trip, with more than 2-3 of your friends, villas suites and even Airbnb’s are really great to have those bonding moments.
Hotel Muse: We flew back to Bangkok our last night and stayed at the Hotel Muse which was a total different feel and vibe from 137 Pillars. Muse’s ambiance was sexy, mysteriously dark and the design was inspired by the movie Titanic. This hotel totally had us at “Hello” when we walked in our rooms and they had our names embroidered into our pillows. (YES WE KEPT THE PILLOW CASES LOL!) The highlights of this place is their Speakeasy rooftop bar. And I don’t mean the one they publicly advertise called “The Speakeasy,” there is actually a hidden bar on the roof located behind a secret door. The food and cocktails were incredible, and we got a chance to kick it with fellow travel blogger Cool Young History.
What We Did:
Initially riding elephants, chilling with tigers, and playing with monkeys was high on our priority to-do list. It is the reason we chose Thailand, and definitely why we wanted to add Chiang Mai to our trip. Unfortunately after doing tons of research, we weren’t exactly sure about the treatment of the animals and didn’t want to encourage and promote adventures that involved us living it up with the wildlife that may be mistreated and mishandled, even drugged behind the scenes. For that reason, we axed the elephant trekking and visits to Tiger Kingdom off of the list and settled the closest we came to wildlife was a few monkeys and snakes that were on hand at The Damnoen Saduak floating market. Our Bangkok agenda also included a cocktails cruise on the Surrianga Cruise visited the Maekway Long Train Market (which is a must do in Bangkok), as well as a few food street tours on Koh San Road and China Town in the evening, where they came in contact with fried scorpions. At some point on the second night, while I was in bed dealing with indigestion, the girls ventured off into the nightlife and got to see a few girls blowing ping pongs out of their vajayjays. (Yes, it’s a thing.)
In Phuket, we originally had a full day of canoeing through Sea Caves with John Gray Sea Canoes on the agenda, but our property was so packed with activities and not to mention extremely relaxing that we stayed on the property. Cooking classes, yoga, spa, endless pools, we were in paradise.
What we ate:
In Phuket and Bangkok I ate a lot of curry. Ashley partook in the Scorpion eating.
I just can’t.
Highlighted food moments included Baba Beach Club beachfront property (where we ate shrimp with the eyes still intact, as well as Baba Soul Food (which is on the at Sri Panwa), and our absolute favorite food moment was courtesy of Bangkok Trading Post which is on the property of 137 Pillars.
Need I say more?
The food was great everywhere.
Things To Know If You Are Planning A Trip To Thailand
Bangkok is hot and humid late March throughout June. April and May are the hottest months of the year. A lot of activities and adventures involve exploring outside so I’d keep that in mind while trip planning. Also, if you are a big city lover, and okay with sitting in traffic for a long time, Bangkok is the move. Research the floating markets ahead of time as some of them can get super packed with tourist during certain hours. The city also has a ton of temples, things to do and a beautiful skyline. If you are looking for more of a vacation, places like Psi Psi Islands, Chiang Mai (mountains) and Phuket (more of an Island feel) would be better suited.
All in all, Thailand has so many things to do and so many options.
‘The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had…’
I can’t say that I’m the most spiritual person by most Christian’s standards. I probably break a few biblical rules every now and then, and I am not in church every Sunday. But my belief in God is strong. And my Faith even stronger.
Every time I’ve ever decided to just up and move to another state, it hasn’t been just a random decision that I wanted to do for shock value. It’s hard for me to explain, but I’ve always felt this strong nudge from a higher power that told me it was time to go, and where my next destination would be. Although a lot of times, it made complete sense business wise (the moves to Los Angeles, and New York) at other times, it made no sense at all and I just had to brace myself for what awaited in the cities I was being directed to.
For example, last June, I was set up on a date with this guy (I kind of miss him!!!) and we had breakfast. I swear I had only sat down all of 10 minutes before he asked me, ‘Are you happy with what you do?’ I remember cringing just a bit, because the struggle of what I wanted to do versus what everyone else wanted me to do had been very real over the past few years. I was hoping that I wasn’t carrying around that energy. It’s the worse when you are trying to figure yourself out, and you find yourself feeling stuck and hating everything you used to love about your life, and people can feel that energy when you walk in the room. That’s awful.
Actually, I’d rather just stay home.
I responded, ‘Are you??’
His response: ‘I am. But it’s not about me, it’s about the young men that I mentor and inspire, hoping that they don’t make the same mistakes as I did in the beginning of my professional career. ‘
From there, our breakfast date turned into a 30-minute pep talk about life. He did the talking, I listened while envisioning myself running out of there and crawling into a shell. I kept imagining myself as him, looking at me as someone who was supposed to be successful, but instead I was sitting there all insecure about my career and where I was in life. I wanted to end the date, because frankly put, no matter how he felt about me good or bad, I wasn’t comfortable with him dating that version of me. Can we have a redo when I get myself together?
When I got home, my friend who was waiting at my house asked, ‘How was your date?’ And I blurted out, ‘He’s an amazing guy but …I’m moving to Arizona.’
She was like, ‘What???’ And in my mind, I was wondering the same thing. Like, girl what did you just say?
I repeated. ‘I’m moving to Arizona. I’m going out there, and I’m going to figure myself out. I can’t keep living my life like this…’
Til this day, I still don’t know what made me come to the revelation that Arizona is where I should be. All I can say is that some spiritual force directed me there. Even though it wasn’t an entertainment capital, or somewhere that would allow me to blossom in my career by providing me more access to more industry tastemakers and celebrities, I truly believed that’s where I would find clarity…and a bit of happiness. And I didn’t ask any questions.
It’s been five months since I made the move, and I will say, I’m experiencing the most happiest and enlightening time of my life. It’s like a rebirth of sorts, which I can’t quite put into words, and is partially the reason I’ve been ‘reclusive’ (as someone put it recently). When you go through changes in life, especially positive ones, sometimes there is that fear that people won’t be accepting of the ‘new you.’ And the reality is, sometimes they won’t. This is an opportunity to do closet clean out, because everyone isn’t meant to go into the next part of your journey with you. (That was a Note To Self:)
Looking back, if I had never moved and taken myself out of a space that was becoming very stagnant, I would have eventually become stuck. I wouldn’t have progressed and reached my true potential. I would have stayed stuck!
When it feels scary to jump, that’s exactly when you jump.
Otherwise, you end up staying the same place your whole life.
And that I can’t do
What I have learned is, it is extremely difficult to find and walk in your purpose when you surround yourself with ‘If I were you’ people. And what I mean by that is, it’s natural to run to friends about what you are going through but sometimes when you need advice, you have to find it in those who are already where you want to be, not from people who want to be where you already are.
When I lived in LA and New York over the past four years, people were constantly giving me advice based on their idea of what I should be, or what they would do if they were in my shoes, not realizing that what they wanted for me, wasn’t what I wanted for myself. ‘If I had your platform, I would do this this and this’ was all I ever heard, but those things that I was getting advice on wasn’t fulfilling me nor was it leading me closer to my purpose.
The result is feeling lost, and feeling stuck. You lose yourself.
Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
Once I revealed I was moving, I received so much opposition from people who thought I was absolutely crazy that I almost talked myself out of it. I heard things like, ‘how are you going to stay relevant?’ (Let’s be honest, if I wanted to be relevant in today’s culture, snagging a famous boyfriend, or releasing a set of nudes would get me there real quick) — but what do you consider relevant? What kind of relevancy am I seeking? I want to break amazing ground, have an impact on my culture, and leave a legacy that’s uplifting and inspiring to young women. How am I doing that now? How am I going to do that?
That’s the question I had to ask myself. That’s the question I challenge anyone to ask themselves when they feel stuck in a space of mediocrity or when they’ve obtained success but aren’t fulfilled.
What impact do I want to have in my profession?
What do I want my legacy to be?
Am I on the right path?
What changes do I have to make to get there?
I watched a speech by Lauryn Hill a few years ago, and it there was a bit in there that moved me. I knew then that I would have to make some changes in my life and in my career soon. She said:
We’re all trying to get to this next level without the next level finding us.
I went from the top of one mountain, [and] I’ve mastered something and people appreciated it. Once you’ve been on top on that mountain, you have to move, but people are like, ‘I’m not moving….I’m the master, I’m great, I’m dope, I’m here, I’ve arrived, I’m not going anywhere!’
That’s when you stay stuck…
on one hill, one mountain.
God’s intention is that we study and master a bunch of things. So here I am descending this hill and everybody is like “Where are you going, we’re suppose to be on top of the hill?”
But it’s definitely an exciting time for me because I’m at the foot of another hill. This hill is totally different and navigated differently, but I get to learn. Once you learn and you go through that, you’re on the top of another one.
I would encourage everyone to never be afraid of not knowing…find out because that’s how you get to mastership.
Let’s not be mediocre in our greatness.
Think big, and think in doses, and think in experiences and don’t be afraid of experiences that teach you.
I shared that quote to say, I’m finally working towards my dream. I’ve had a long amazing journey, but I honestly think it’s only just begun. I’ve only scratched the surface of my potential.
And I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Mission started. Sometimes constantly looking back will keep you from pushing forward
If it’s one thing I love more than a spacious, cozy hotel, it’s AIRBNB.
Ever since I booked a 2 bedroom spacious condo, with a chef kitchen and washer and dryer in Paris for the same price I paid for a cramped hotel room which was barely big enough for a bed, I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, for last minute trips, I normally find myself booking a hotel (through the highly discounted HOTEL TONIGHT app) but for anything longer than a day or two, AIRBNB is my preference.
With that being said, although most of the places I’ve booked on the site have been amazing, I’ve had some shady experiences as well. Like the time I checked into an Airbnb and the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my life greeted me at the door like, “Hey girl hey!!!” The good news is that Airbnb was pretty good about refunding my money for that place and I decided against giving the apartment host a bad review.
For that reason, I decided to share the Top 5 Airbnb’s I’ve ever stayed at in various cities.
1. London, England
Cost: Ranges from $170 – $215 a night
What I loved: This Luxury, Airy and Bright 1 bedroom modern apartment in the Paddington area of London was the upper echelon of Airbnb experiences. The neighborhood was gorg with all white buildings lining both sides of the street, and Hyde Park (which is equivalent to Central Park) was a few blocks away. The train station was a short 5-10 minute walk which was convenient since all of the necessary attractions (Birmingham Palace, The London Eye, Big Ben, etc) were only a few stops away.
The inside of the apartment was impeccable and decorated to give an old Hollywood glamour feel. The bedroom was very ZEN and had bottles of water and fruit on the night stand. When I checked in there was fresh roses on the table, as well as chocolates, the kitchen cabinets were fully stocked with pots and pans and food, the fridge stocked with water and fruit, and the bathroom fully stocked with all the essentials such as toothpaste, lotion, toothbrushes, etc. I thought maybe it was a one time thing since I was one of the first to ever stay in the place, but when I went back to look at the reviews recently, everyone mentioned the roses, fruit, fully stocked kitchen and so forth. A fully stocked kitchen is very rare for an Airbnb unit.
Additional bonus points: Since I was staying for a week, I reached out to the hosts to ask if they’d be able to give me the place for a set rate, which was discounted a few hundred dollars, and they agreed. (I never mentioned my websites or anything.) Also, upon check in I asked if they had a full-length mirror in the condo, and I was told ‘no’ but they kindly brought one in for me the next day.
2. Paris, France
This 2 bedroom apartment in the Le Marais area of Paris was my first AIRBNB experience ever. Unlike the London pad which is set up to be rented out by a high volume of guests, this place is the actual living quarters of the host, and she rents it out during the holidays.
What I loved: Once we got past the super tiny elevator (that could barely fit one person), and the fact that all of the hosts things were still in the apartment, we realized that this condo far exceeded what we would have ever gotten out of a Parisian hotel for the same rate. The apartment was spacious with a huge cozy living room, washer and dryer, and chef style kitchen. There was also plenty of train lines nearby, as well as restaurants, shops and the market for basic necessities. What made this stay amazing was the hospitality of the host’s boyfriend Herve, who helped us carry our bags when we arrived as well as when we departed and was very generous.
I definitely would recommend if staying in Paris for longer than 4-5 days. Live like a local!!
3. Manhattan, New York
Cost: $349 (Not bad for a 2bedroom in New York if you are traveling with 2 or more people. This place can hold up to 4-6 people comfortably. )
If it’s one place I prefer not to Airbnb in, it’s New York City. You just never know what you are walking into, and you have to make sure you read the reviews thoroughly before booking. It’s just uber convenient if you are traveling with friends and want to book one unit versus several hotel rooms.
What I loved: This Spacious Mid-town 2 Bedroom apartment near 5th Avenue lived up to all of my expectations. The unit looked like the photos, and the two bedrooms had enough space to walk around and feel comfortable. The building had an elevator which you will find is rare. Most apartments in New York listed on Airbnb are walk ups! The full length mirror in the living room was a huge plus for us since we attended a few events during our stay and needed to make sure we were presentable before leaving the house. This was definitely one of the coziest and spacious New York Airbnb apartments I’ve stayed in and it was in a central location (near 51st and 5) close to everything you’d need.
The check in process was also flawless with someone meeting us at our check in and check out time. (A recent Airbnb I stayed in had us walking blocks –with our luggage– to find a safe deposit box located in a pay phone to get our keys. And there was a two flight walk up. Just terrible.)
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
Cost: $98 – 120
What I loved: If you want to be extremely close to the strip, but away from the crowds, loud noise, and gambling that Vegas is known for, this 21st floor Strip View Studio In The MGM Grand Signature is everything you are looking for while being cheaper than most hotels. Since the MGM Signature is a hotel, you have to check in at the front desk in the same way you would a hotel room, however with an oversized bathroom complete with a spa tub, two flat screen TV’s, a view of the Strip and (the jumping pool party over at the MGM Grand, a comfy bed, and pool on the property, you can’t really beat the price.
Extra bonuses: Room service and valet
5. Chicago, Illinois
Cost: $92 – $98
What I loved: If you are hopping in and out of Chicago for a business trip, and need a crash pad, thisCharming apt in Lakeview will serve it’s purpose. The place looks exactly like the photos (very artsy and cosy) and is situated in an elevator building in a quiet neighborhood, with just a 10-15 minute ride to downtown Chicago. Maria the host has some great books on her windowsill as well.
During my stay, the maintenance guy came banging on the door abruptly while interrupting my much needed nap after a red eye flight. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but when I woke up, I had a note from the host that she had left something outside my door. It was a bottle of wine as an apology for the disturbance. I thought that was very thoughtful.
If you will be visiting any of these cities soon, I hope these listings are useful. Always remember to read the reviews before booking an Airbnb as you will find out all that you need to know. Also, if you are not a member of Airbnb and interested in joining, follow this link, sign up and enjoy $35 off your trip the first time you book.
P.S. If you are just popping in and out of a city last minute for a night or two, hotel tonight is another good option for extremely last minute, discounted hotel rooms. Download the app here and use my promo code NNECOLE for $25 off your first booking.
Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Share your experience (and the link if you dare).
Keep in touch. Follow me on Instagram and snapchat: lovenecole!
Years ago, if you were to ask me to go to Sin City to unwind, I would have thought you were crazy!
As a matter of fact, I hated Vegas. With a passion.
As someone who isn’t a heavy drinker, gambler, or party until the sun comes up type of person, I felt as though that city had no place for me.
That’s until my last visit.
While on the brink of a serious burn out, I took a much needed road trip to Vegas a few weeks ago to catch up with my managing editor Kiah, and I ended up having one of the best times ever. I’ve been on a serious self-care kick lately and I had to first open my mind to the idea that Vegas could be relaxing….which was challenging. But it ended up being just what I needed to regroup, and re-energize so that I could increase productivity at work.
The trip was good to me, and on my last day I was thankful to snag a $95 Airbnbat the MGM Signature which put me away from the crowds, the gamblers and insanity on the strip (although I could see and hear how jumping the Wet Republic pool party was at the MGM grand.)
The highlight of the weekend was a 2-hour ATV Tour through the desert and it was absolutely exhilarating. Nothing else mattered during that 120 minutes as I jetted across the sand with the group, and I even challenged myself to hit the heels and slopes.
I’ve ridden ATV’s in Cabo and Dubai (it’s my favorite thing to do when traveling), but Vegas by far was the best experience. I plan to return again this year and try the scenic tour which is about 3 hours, and includes lunch as well as views of the Colorado River and Hoover Dam.
Catch a few of the pics below:
I’d like to mention that it was 77-80 degrees the entire weekend which is perfect Vegas weather. Most people flock to Vegas during the Summer months and the weather is normally over 100 degrees and stuffy. The best months to go for great weather are between March & May, and late early October -November.
Other awesome activities to experience in Vegas (other than turning up)
ATV Tours ( This is the one we did and I LOVED it. I’d check groupons for 2 for 1 deals. My only gripe with this company is the website says that they take cards, but I saw them pressuring people to pay in cash once they arrived — when companies do this I sometimes think the people on staff are pocketing the money or running scams )
This is something I want to muster up the courage to do when I go back. The tower is the tallest free standing tower in the U.S and at the top, there is an observation deck, and rides that include bungy jumping off of the building (um…I love my life way too much) and an attraction called Insanity that dangles riders off of the side of the building. I saw this ride from afar and was literally gagging. It didn’t help that I found out the ride had a malfunction years ago which left riders hanging off of the building for over an hour.
Woot! Maybe one day.
The moral of this story is every travel experience is different and what you make it. Sometimes winging a trip is great, but when you have a list of things you want to do and accomplish, plan ahead of time, and budget…the experience will end up so much better.
What’s your favorite things to do, places to eat, etc in Vegas?