Five years ago today I moved to New York City for a part-time job in media. I fell in love with NYC the summer prior as an intern at a small PR agency. After that experience, I was determined to live and work in possibly the most wild city in the world after I graduated from college.
That summer after college graduation was challenging. It felt like everyone from the Class of 2014 had landed a real world job, except for me. I remember applying for 10 jobs a day and feeling so discouraged that I only heard back from a few companies and start-ups. I remember taking the 7 hour bus ride from Rochester, NY to knockout several interviews and then hopping right back on that gross bus for a long ride home. It took me several months to find an opportunity that was a good fit with my skills and actually wanted me.
My parents drove me down to NYC on LDW. I moved into an apartment in Bayridge, Brooklyn, right off the last stop on the R train. After my parents moved me in, they waved to me as they drove off back to Rochester. As I stood there, tears began to fall. I wondered what my NYC life would actually be like. I was scared, excited and for the first time ever, on my own. Even though all I wanted was a job in NYC, I realized that I was going to miss my parents, the safe haven of college and had no idea how much my first post-grad year was going to push and develop me.
Some things have totally changed since I began my Carrie Bradshaw adventure. Here are the five lessons I have learned in my five NYC years.
I made really bad decisions.
It's almost painful to remember some horrible decisions I made as a young New Yorker. Almost all of these decisions involved drinking wayyyy too much. I was transitioning from a college student to an adult, and I had not yet learned that adults can't party on a Tuesday night. My drinking impacted my friendships, intimate relationships, safety, health and even my career.
I was scared to cut people off.
I stayed in a lot of dating relationships and friendships that were not good for my spirit. I've learned that in order to maintain a positive life, sometimes you have to let people go. Back then, I knew that some friendships weren't real or positive, but I was scared to cut people off for the fear of being seen as "mean" or a "bitch".
I was determined to get my dream job.
Looking back, I think I was super bright-eyed and know I was determined to get my dream job - which I got! I emailed my dream company every week for months until they had me come in for an interview. I still believe that once you have a goal, you have to fight for it. Five years later, I know that it's easy to get too tired or busy to chase down your goals, but you have to pursue it with everything you have. I still fight to keep that fire in my soul because you should always remain that bright-eyed girl with lots of dreams.
I had no idea how to be a healthy adult.
As mentioned above, I was not a healthy person my first year in NYC. I was in negative relationships. I drank way too much. I lived in an apartment that I hated. I worked three jobs for my first 8 months in NYC including dressing up as a Christmas present and handing out fliers in SoHo. I had no idea what it meant to be mindful or empathetic. Now, I am surrounded by positive relationships and people. I have role models and mentors. I have a loving, committed and wonderful life partner. I hardly drink and actually know my limit. I live in an environment that I love. I make money now! HAYYYY. I am confident in my body, skills and mindset. I feel proud of who I am and where I am going.
I was truly enamored of NYC.
When I first moved to this city, I couldn't get enough. The hustle, the museums, the $1 pizza, the clubs, the so many cute men, the adventures, even the R train had some redeeming qualities. Everything was new and shiny. I have since been around the block and know that I will eventually leave the city for things like a backyard, savings, a suburban Target and new adventures. But I know there is no where else I would rather be during this time of my life. New York is where you come to dream and evolve. It's where you come to glow up. And I can only imagine how my bright my glow up will be in the next five NYC years.
It all started with a solo trip to Bermuda.
Two winters ago, I visited the island of pink sand to enjoy a week in complete solitude. I stayed at a yoga studio and it was pure Zen magic with sunshine.
My parents were horrified that I traveled around a “strange island” by myself. When I safely returned, my Mom was so traumatized that she insisted on accompanying me on my next adventure.
Before I asked my Mom to join me on a trip to visit my college study abroad host family in Spain, I was hesitant. Do I really want to travel with my Mom? It sounds almost borderline nightmare. My mom lives in a suburban bubble. She needs help just navigating our small hometown. She is not well-traveled and never left the country until her mid-50s. She is one of those few people that will only cross the street in New York City when the flashing walking man is giving her the go ahead. When I finally asked her to come with me, she said yes immediately.
The months prior to our trip were filled with buzzing anticipation. We talked endlessly on the phone about our upcoming trip, even discussing at length the appropriate flirty, colorful wardrobe to pack. I was pleasantly surprised by how giddy my Mom was about visiting Spain. It was hard to remember the last time I heard so much excitement from her on our daily phone calls. It delighted me to hear her catching the travel bug, a condition I had been blessed with for years.
The day we landed in Madrid was unreal. After months of planning we had finally arrived. This was our first trip together. It’s funny how her fear of me traveling solo had brought us to this positive place. Just my Mom and me.
The opportunity to travel solo with your Mom is an experience many of us want to enjoy. Haven’t you seen Snatched or The Guilt Trip? In fact, according to luxury travel network Virtuoso, traveling with family was the top travel trend for 2018. I even noticed the movement on Instagram, seeing influencers post selfies with their Moms in Rome, South Africa and Australia.
Just the idea of traveling with your Mom is special. I live a 7-hour car ride from her, and although phone calls, Facetime and texts help to stay in touch, I am jealous that my nearby siblings get to see her way more than I do. And then there’s that horrible reality that one day my Mom may not want to travel anymore.
After Madrid, our Spanish holiday included stops at León, Barcelona and a small mountain village, Maraña. My Mom was a great travel partner because she could keep up with my ridiculous New York pace, take any staged photo for Insta and always knew if I was in the mood to be chatty or chill. We shared moments that I will hold in my heart forever.
But, it wasn’t always a perfect Gilmore Girls episode. As the more experienced traveler, I was responsible for getting us around Spain the whole time. When we arrived in Barcelona during a taxi strike, it was quite the challenge to figure out the metro system. Over an hour later of bickering, train transfers and dragging our luggage all over the city, we arrived at the hotel’s rooftop pool to celebrate our accomplishment. We were feeling ourselves after slaying that public transit obstacle!
My other responsibilities included setting my Mom’s phone up to Wi-Fi, checking her into flights and trains, carrying her luggage (while carrying my own) and translating her most random English questions (example: “Does anyone drive pickup trucks around here?”) for my study abroad host family to understand. Of course, we got on each other’s nerves, but we also laughed a lot. We truly basked in each other’s company in beautiful, sunny Spain.
The next time you’re thinking of an adventure, instead of asking your romantic partner or friend, think about your Mom. Maybe it will bring you closer together. Maybe you will learn from each other. Maybe you will see another side of your Mom. It’s easy to forget that before you, she had another life. There was a moment in Barcelona at The Sagrada Família, when my Mom couldn’t believe that a woman like her, with such humble beginnings, was in this breathtaking basílica. I rememebred that my Mom isn’t just my Mom; she’s a woman with an interesting history, a wonderful present and an exciting future.
My Mom and I returned to New York with a better understanding of each other. We learned that we aren’t only Mom and daughter, but we’re travel partners too. We’re thinking our next adventure will be to the Grand Canyon. Where will you and your Mom go?
I haven't blogged or even been on my website since May 2018. This has been the longest break I have ever taken from my little space here. I took this short 'pause' to catch up on life and reflect. During that time, I started a new job! I moved into a brand new apartment with my man! I went to Spain with my Mom! I became a Godmother for the first time ever! I went to Greece with my man (first abroad trip together - and we survived)! And finished all five seasons of Grace & Frankie!
I am excited to be blogging and sharing my thoughts again. The past few months, I have so missed writing and realized I mostly enjoy writing for myself, for my own memories and pleasure. Can you believe I have been blogging since 2014?! I think that in some ways, this space has evolved into my public display of self-care.
I am not just back with an updated website and blog though! I am back with my first-ever podcast, Bridgit Off The Clock. Take a moment and collect yourself now!
It has been my DREAM to create and host my own podcast ever since I graduated college 5 years ago (HOW was that five years ago?! We're still getting better & better like Countess Luann though). During my university days, I had my own radio show titled, “The Baby Makin’ Hour” yeeeapppp, and the show was about as you may have guessed it, college dating and hooking up. Since those glorious and fun years, I have been daydreaming about podcasting, but kept putting it off because of the 9 to 5 or let’s be real 7 to 7 work grind.
The podcast is all about being the best you can be, both on and off the clock. Each episode, I chat with people who inspire me, from family, friends, career coaches, wellness experts and the girl across the cube, to unpack how we can all be the best we can be from 9 to 5 and beyond.
I created the podcast to celebrate and support young women working while dreaming, hustling and scheming for a life that is more balanced, dreamy, passionate and FUN. When I chat with my working girlfriends, we often talk about how it's really hard to bring your A-game to all facets of life. I legit feel like Michelle Obama if I slay at work, go to a yoga class and wash my hair all in one damn day. With so much focus on our careers, it's easy to forget about our happiness, health and successes outside of the office. This is why I built this little space of mine, because I know I am not the only gal who has felt this way in my 'adulting' journey.
I am so excited to be back and know that when women come together as a supportive and encouraging network, we can help each other feel seen on and off the clock! Check out the first episode HERE & stay tuned for more!
Allow me to introduce you to the summer bucket list. Creating an epic summer bucket list began in high school with my original girl gang right after school had ended for the year. We had two months together, without lame classes and teachers, which meant it was crucial to live our best lives each summer. The items on our list ranged from enjoying the best soft-serve ice cream in town to securing the hottest summer fling in town (...which never really happened). These days, my summer bucket list lives on and continues to bring me ice cream fun.
Now that Memorial Day Weekend has passed us, and the sun is shining brighter than Meghan Markle's royal career, it's time to start writing up a summer bucket list. This summer, my Mom and I are going to Spain together and it's going to be on another level of awesomeness for this epic list. Since so much adventure is awaiting me, I really want to bask in the simple pleasures summer always brings. Ice cream on the boardwalk. Sweaty runs and golden tans. Dancing in the moonlight. Flirty skirts. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Picnics. Beach. Summer lovin'. While getting down to basics, I want to spend less time on my phone and more time with summer.
So my homework for you is to think about what you want to do this summer and what this season may mean for you. Maybe it's time you finally went on that weekend trip to Canada. Maybe you need to hit the dance clubs and enjoy a steamy summer fling. Maybe you need a walk at the beach to just think. Whatever you do, please don't waste this sunshine because we wait all year to live the good life.
It’s been one month since I have become a live-in girlfriend on the Upper West Side. In that time, we have fallen in love with our new couch (if you live in NYC, run to Bob’s Discount Furniture in East Harlem, it’s the spot for fulfilling your Pinterest dreams while also keeping money in the bank for date night), found our design aesthetic and celebrated the new nearby Trader Joe’s by keeping the fridge properly stocked at all times.
Before moving in, I saw my boyfriend 1-3 times a week, and most of those times were crammed post-work hangouts. We have transitioned from seeing each other occasionally, to seeing each other live our lives every day. Before you live with someone, you have no idea how they really live their lives. Do they shower in the morning or at night? Are they chatty after work or do they need some space? Do they keep their shoes on or off when in the apartment? All of these little things you don’t know until you live with someone.
Thus far, I have learned that building a home with someone takes time. If this was just my place, I would have a Beyoncé shrine and a mermaid themed bathroom, but this isn’t just my palace - it’s our kingdom. Before this stage in a relationship, you still think in “me” and “I”. What do I need at the grocery store? What am I doing this weekend? Once you’re living together, you begin to think more in “we” and “our” because like, hello, he’s right there. Now, we buy our groceries together (but mostly cook separate meals) and collaborate on weekend plans. I am still fiercely “me”, but with a built-in partner to take my Instagram photos.
My main takeaway is to really speak up about your needs and wants once you share an address with your S.O. If you need to be in bed by 10 PM during the work week, be honest with your partner and make it happen. Recently, I had “one of dem days” as Monica says and needed the apartment all by myself to just chill. I had to be honest with my man that it’s not personal, but I need some alone time. If you’re living with someone, you got to really live.
Come and knock on our door, we've been waiting for you <3
Some say you don't really know someone until you travel with them. I know that if I were to board a plane for a spa vacay with some certain gal pals, I would need another spa vacay immediately after to recover. We all have different travel styles, you may enjoy a night out with someone but really, really hate a pub crawl with them in a foreign country after they lost their passport for the third time.
When I studied abroad, my friends and I would explore a different city or country almost every weekend. I would wake up each Friday morning ready to board my cheap Ryanair flight with my hideous orange backpack, knowing that wherever I went would be dope because of my friends. I even found my travel soulmate with these people, a companion who has the same interests, budget and map reading capabilities.
My last adventure took me to Washington, D.C. to smell the cherry blossoms and kinda remember U.S. history class. Each year, D.C. hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. The trees bloom beauty and friendship, it’s quite remarkable.
My travel companion was my hunky boyfriend, Dave. In many ways, Dave is my partner for life, my go-to, my right hand, my dude. But…I have learned that we don’t always travel well together. Our first getaway was this past fall to the hot and steamy Savannah, Georgia. It was the perfect southern romance, complete with a ghost tour, drag show, pralines and absolutely no fights. Not even a little disagreement. We got lucky.
This time around, I played tour guide for Dave’s first trip to D.C. Before our visit, he thought the National Mall was an actual shopping center. And he was excited about it. The real National Mall, rich with history and glory, didn’t impress my man at all. I was annoyed that he wasn't in awe of these landmarks and that he didn't want to walk everywhere, while he was annoyed that I was racing around and not relaxing at the zoo with a brew #zoobrew.
Just because you’re dating/seeing/married/committed/hooking up/whatever with someone, doesn’t mean that person is your ideal travel mate. Each adventure is different, and a couple getaway shouldn’t be your only trip when you’re with someone. In fact, you may need a break from that special someone!
When planning a trip, who you travel with is just as important as what you travel to see. The best part about travelling is that you don’t even need anyone to go with you! I am a big fan of solo travel, so read that blog post too. Although we had a great trip and the blossoms surrounded us in natural, pink, delightful beauty, my mind is already planning a fun holiday to Cuba with my girlfriends. Sometimes you just need a girls island vacay and other times you need an adventure with your S.O.
For the past four years, I have lived in Brooklyn. I am not talking about the cool, hipster Brooklyn. I am talking about the “last stop on the R train, everyone knows everyone, still has an accent, best black and white cookies, actually affordable, fights break out, but everything can be solved at the neighborhood bar” Brooklyn. There’s absolutely nothing cool, hip or trendy about Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. You come here to live, relax and take long subway rides.
In these past four years, I have had 12 roommates including a large, fluffy Chow Chow that went to the bathroom all over my bed. Yes, a large Chow Chow pooped all over my bed. I have also lived in an apartment that had bedbugs, so living in New York City is not what Carrie Bradshaw promised me it would be.
As you may have guessed, living with roomies in small spaces is challenging. All of my roommates have been Craigslist “randoms”, and while some of these matches worked out, some really didn’t. Suddenly, after years of solving roommate issues as a college dormitory Resident Assistant, I was in the center of roommate conflicts. I have lived with people from very different cultures than my own, people who make more and less money than me, people who are neat freaks and people who literally leave half-eaten sandwiches on the kitchen counter. When you live with random roommates and have a lease, you make it work. I have learned that the way people are brought up really influences how they maintain their space, approach conflict and live their lives.
My past four years here been just as wild, unexpected and beautiful as this borough. When I first moved to Brooklyn, I had graduated college a few months prior and had accepted a part-time job in public relations. Most of my time was spent hustling, dreaming and exploring everything from career changes, intimate relationships and New York City. Similar to my roommates, some experiences really worked out and some really didn’t.
As I am leaving a neighborhood I have called home, I am moving to a new place that already feels even more like home. For the first time in my adult life, I am finally going to have a space that I am creating with someone I love. I bless that Halloween night at the club when I met Dave. You know how they say that one day you will meet someone and realize why it never worked with anyone else? After many, many, many duds, that day finally arrived for me. Four years ago, I didn’t even think it was possible for me to be moving to the Upper West Side with a boyfriend, I just wanted to spot a celebrity on the subway.
Thank you Bay Ridge, for serving as my safe New York City haven. I could always count on you to be a breath of fresh air (literally) from Manhattan, offer the cheapest manis, the best beet burgers and to never judge me for wearing the same sweatsuit all weekend. Although I am not going to miss the commute, the roommates, the R train or the lack of anything cool to do, I will always remember my times here as a Brooklyn Babe. #BKinBK #ByeByeBrooklyn
Every few months (or weeks!), I feel a strong desire in my soul to travel. To explore. To get lost. This need developed in college when I was a #blessed study abroad student that enjoyed long weekends to charming European cities, a low drinking age and cute boys that could wear both a scarf and a beret. Since then, my love affair with moving has only deepened and I make sure to embark on an adventure a few times a year.
The first rule of travelling on a budget as a post study abroad student, is to examine where your current pals are living these days. Maybe you have a friend of a friend in France? Cousin in New Orleans? Hook-up in Montana? If you’re super lucky, you have actual friends living in places as cool as them. That’s why I recently embarked on a West Coast adventure to Los Angeles, to visit a close college friend.
As a New Yorker, you hear about LA often. I wouldn’t say the cities are current rivalries, but they both hold down their coasts with loads of pride, style and burgers (will explain later). Before my first LA visit, I assumed everyone there must love to hike, juice and tan… and that assumption may be true because I did hike, juice and tan with LA peeps.
LA is sunny and chill. I was obsessed with the palm trees there and found bliss at Santa Monica. However, LA can also feel like a big highway, is the definition of urban sprawl and In-N-Out Burger is not worth the wait. Yeah, I said it.
The best part of exploring LA was spending time with my friend. Learning how other people live, work, play, cook, chill and date in a different place is what travelling is all about. I saw how my friend gets around in LA without a driver’s license and learned that yes, LA has a public transit system. I learned how he dominates in the city of angels, stars and dreams… and that was the most brilliant part about my LA trip.
Go call up your friend-of-a-friend’s-ex-girlfriend’s-cousin and pay them a visit. You may just see more than tourist sites.
Growing up, I hated making salad and eating salad. The salad I knew as a kid was as lackluster as Justin Timberlake's Superbowl performance, it always consisted of pointless iceberg lettuce, dry carrots and runny tomatoes. Since those tragic salad days, I have learned that a good DIY salad can take you higher to the food Gods, but it took a whole lot of learning to get to the salad Holy Land.
One of my very best friends (actually soulmate tbh), Autumn, is a vegan goddess. I vividly remember meeting Autumn as study abroad students in Brussels, Belgium. It was my second day there and as womanhood would have it, I received the wonderful gift of my period. I had no idea where to find tampons, so we went on an adventure to purchase the only brand I ever use, o.b. (yes, I know it's weird, but idc). The intimate experience of bonding over tampons and periods secured our friendship for life.
This past fall, I visited Autumn in her now city of residence, Portland, OR. As I mentioned, she's a vegan goddess creating vegan wonders in the kitchen, everything from Belgian waffles to flavorful salads. Autumn showed me that DIY salads don't need to be miserable bowls of greens that you try to avoid like the worst hangover of your life. Instead, making your own salad should be flavorful, fun and easy. Once you've incorporated my tips and recipes below, you won't need anyone else to toss your salad!
Build a Base
The foundation of your salad should never, ever be boring! Throw away the gross iceberg lettuce and try kale (my all-time favorite), arugula, Swiss chard or spinach. Perhaps spread the green around and mix a few together?!
Like a good outfit, mix in some fun textures! For example, try shredded sweet potato (instead of chopping), nuts, dried fruits (instead of fresh fruit chopped) or make a veggie hash to mix in. My favorite veggie hash is onion, black beans, chopped potato and shredded sweet potato. Sautee together and there ya go, veggie hash!
Warm it Up
My friend Autumn's theory to a good salad is that the meal needs a warm element. This can mean a literal hot ingredient or a warm flavor. After some experimentation, my salad guru is totally correct. I love adding roasted Brussels sprouts, baked Salmon or sauteed chickpeas to the mix. You can also try roasting cauliflower with turmeric for a warm flavor.
Dress to Impress
Pairing your salad with a dressing you love is crucial. What is Prince Harry without Meghan Markle? Blake without Ryan? Drake without RiRi (so not really a thing, but I will always want them to be a thing)? It took me a while to find The One, but Brianna's Creamy Cilantro Lime dressing has stolen my stomach. Brianna's dressings are a little pricey, but it's so worth it if it's going to help you eat more veggies. Just a little drop goes a long way too!
Some of my favorite salads happened by accident. For example, the veggie hash I mentioned above was the recipe I had for veggie tacos. I decided to make it into a salad with kale and pickled red onion. I used to not like fruit in my salad, but have found that apples and grapes are great additions. I have even added leftover chili to a salad with shredded cheddar cheese for a Southwestish vibe.
Now that you're empowered to toss your own salad, may you never need to rely on a mediocre salad ever again!
Two years ago, I embarked on my first solo trip to Scotland. One year ago, I embarked on my second solo trip to Bermuda.
I had never planned on travelling solo and believed I wasn’t “strong, smart or capable” enough to do so. When studying abroad in college, I would meet independent travelers in hostels all the time and marveled at their confidence and bravery to explore the world solo. I could never do such a thing! What if I got lost? What if someone kidnapped me? Could I really eat at a restaurant all by myself? Who will take my strategically posed photos for Instagram? Who, who, WHO?!
Then, I decided, why not?
My first trip included an adventure to North Wales to visit a dear college friend. Following that wonderful experience, I had mustered the bravery to board a train (which turned into a bus ride) to Scotland. My reasoning for going on my own, was simply, to prove I could do it. I wanted to challenge myself and do everything I wanted, on my own schedule and budget.
After a Scottish trip filled with castles, tartan, wild accents, man buns (like every dude I saw had a man bun and I was about it) and shortbread, I couldn’t wait to hit the road again with my bad self.
My next trip took me to the pink island of Bermuda. This exploration for me came at a time where I seriously lacked self-esteem due to a medical condition. Suddenly, my life had turned into a sad place, where I only went to work and returned home with a broken, sad heart. I saw myself turning into a person that I never wanted to become, a person that was afraid, shut down and bitter. I felt so, so broken. That’s when I knew I needed to get lost on a sunny island.
It’s funny how being in a new place can bring you back home. Bermuda allowed for me shine, to enjoy the fresh air, to laugh and make people laugh, to feel brave and vulnerable. While hiking and swimming, I slowly began to reconnect with myself. I realized that no matter what happens in this wild life, that my heart and spirit will always remain me. I confirmed to myself that my being is kind, adventurous, bold and giving. This feeling was even felt by my Airbnb hosts, as one wrote that I am “one free, free spirit.”
My solo trips have been unforgettable. I cherish my alone time, solitude and inner peace. I have learned that a train ride can take you to unexpected places. Sleeping alone isn’t so scary. Going far away may bring you closer to your own self, family and friends. Follow your instincts, for they will never steer you wrong. Believe that there are so many adventures to be had and great people yet to meet. Think that every place will welcome you with open arms, despite what the world may tell us. Ask someone to take your picture, they will most likely say “yes.”