Paris

“You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Our segue to Italy had to be Paris on our overseas adventure. With two nights to spend we arrived at 5 the first evening. Our plan was to do and see as much as we could in the glamorous city.

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We took the Eurostar from London to Paris which was efficient, clean, fast and easy. After the tunnel under the english channel, we sped through the French countryside, green and quaint.

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Arriving into Paris, an alluring city, all the romantic French cliches rang true. It was mammoth and magnificent. Paris is the birthplace of gothic architecture, which is displayed throughout the city.

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Everything we had envisioned Paris to be paled in comparison to the grandeur of it. Under the full moon, we were romanced by the night, the sights, sounds, flavors and people of the city. So completely enfolded in the enchantment that enveloped us in  french magnifique.

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We had dinner at Louis Phillipe, from a recommendation. It was a cozy and charming spot.  We had deliciously rich flavors of burgundy and beef, potatoes and roasted chicken, herbs suited to the meals.

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Walking through the city we stopped at several places, meeting other travelers and sharing our stories throughout the evening. Stopping at Notre Dame, which was a few blocks from our cozy, little airbnb and were impressed with it’s magnitude.

 

The Louvre, overwhelming and breathtaking, doing 360’s and still feeling like unable to take it all in. Unbelievable how mammoth it is. Walking through taking in the art and relics from many millenia, still only seeing a small fraction of the museum’s splendor.

We found Parisians to be extremely friendly, they wanted to show us all their Parisian splendor. Using the few words we knew in French we were able to get by easily, most people spoke English as well, with very little challenges and a lot of French joie de vivre.

We found the perfect excursion for our last night there. It was a boat ride that stopped at most of the sights to see, also feeding us a four course dinner. It was an opportunity to see what we had not seen yet, including the Île aux Cygnes and Eiffel tower, which truly takes the breath away. The tower lit up in spontaneous glittering and we felt imbued in its sparkling display.

 

Needless to say our two days in Paris became a romantic interlude. Je t’aime Paris, until next time.

 

xo,

Nicole

 

About Me Too

“If something is trending and interesting, ask critical questions.  Who is participating?  Who is benefiting?  Who is left out?” ~ Brianna, The Wake (Influencer/Activist)

Albeit late, I had all intentions to post about Paris and our trip. Yet what’s been on my mind are the allegations that have been coming forward, seemingly daily, from the entertainment industry. More so feeling compassion for all the people who’ve bravely come forward with their stories.

Of course Me Too, I can count on both hands things that have happened. One, as a teenager was blown up in the media where I self-blamed, was slut shamed, victim blamed and shunned from my community. I don’t want to make this post about my story, I will go into detail in my memoir and short film.

Although, when I would share my story in my youth and onwards, I was shocked by how many people would confide in me something that happened to them that they “never talked about”.  A victim’s shame can keep them withholding their experience and pain.

“So much about activism is giving visibility to those who are denied representation.  It’s about giving voices to the disenfranchised.  People who fight the hardest for these things are people who are actually within those communities.”~ Brianna, The Wake (Influencer/Activist)

The paradigm shift is upon us and it’s pertinent for us as a collective to discuss sexual assault and abuse, especially coming from the industry that influences our society.  There’s a lot of owning up happening and we’re seeing people being held accountable for their actions. Women’s voices are being heard.

These cycles of abuse have been perpetuating generations upon generations. It is in the uncovering of these icky, murky, disgraceful depths that we can start to create change for our future generations by talking about it. By teaching respect and personal boundaries from a young age.

Open up, let’s talk about this. It’s not something to be ashamed of any longer, it’s something to become empowered through, together. There is solidarity and strength that can be found in sharing.

I commend everyone who is coming forward with their stories and the courage it takes to expose the pain. Empowerment is possible and you can overcome it. My heart goes out to you and surrounds you in healing light.

 

xo,

Nicole

Article where quotes were pulled from I highly recommend reading:

http://www.wakemag.org/sections/voices/me-too

 

 

London Calling

To love is the greatest gift we’re imparted with, something that’s impossible to summarize through mere words or pictures. It is a timeless treasure from the universe and bestowed within this precious gift one finds through love a deeper and higher truth of self that can be shared with another.

Love the most grandiose of all adventures.

While my usual propensity for adventuring is going solo, I found the perfect travel companion in said love, his name is Bryan 😉 We found on our overseas excursion that we adventure well together, with calm agility and fun intrigue.

Our fist stop on this journey was London for 3 full days, in all its English glory. A city that is etched in heart and mind as one that feels quite homey. With rich cultural heritage that is preserved from eras bygone, along with cheery people speaking our mother tongue.

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We stayed the first two nights outside of London in a perfectly picturesque English country village along the Thames.  We stayed with Bryan’s dear friend and his significant other, in their cozy home. They welcomed us warmly, our time there was lovely.

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Reuniting with people in London is a favorite way to not only explore the city and places to eat, giving us a taste of local life and flavor, but also cherishing the people we know and love in one of the most fabulous cities in the world. We met with many friends throughout the city, including at Beaufort House in Chelsea and Smokey Tails in Hoxton Square. We also spent quality time with a family dear to me. ❤

Delightful every stop along the way.

Enjoying views of the majestic Buckingham Palace and its stately gardens, we strolled through the city,  getting lost to find where we were. We came across Hyde park and Kensington gardens. pleasantly surprised with how beautiful, fresh and expansive they were.

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All the sights and beauty of London embraced us in a glorious way. It was admirable to see how families and friends gathered in the afternoon for the traditional Sunday roasts, in homes, restaurants, even pubs. We observed phone-less, enthusiastic conversations and took note.

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And that was all a prelude……………….. I’ve been saving the best for last. 😉

 

We stayed at Blakes hotel in London in a pristine white room, with a four poster bed, tv in the mirror, huge antique bathtub, which felt like a dreamy escape. The concierge were jovial and welcoming.  The decorum was modernly decadent with a worldly flair.

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Romantically, letting the night take us where it would, we ventured out to an exquisite restaurant for a richly flavored dinner that left our tastebuds singing with flavors. Gallivanting through the city afterwards, everything was quiet, almost empty.  We stopped at the Shard for for panoramic views atop London.

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Walking over the Westminster bridge, there was a feeling of palpable excitement in the air. In the misty night, with droplets of rain falling ever so gracefully, I was calling into life intentions. The moment overcame us and I saw Bryan get down on his knee. I felt the pitter patter of my heart, feeling breathless as I heard him ask “Will you marry me?”.

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My heart was beaming, a shocked giddiness overcame us. The incredulousness of the moment came in an outpouring from the soul. It felt as though time stood still, spiraling through eternity as we gave our exclamations of love and devotion to one another and life. A beloved truth that was a known knowing when we first met.

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An emphatic YES resounded not only to the question, but to love’s calling. In all the ways it permeates life, through all the realms of having true love and a best friend. Love being the greatest gift we can give, it’s also in the receiving; Opening, being receptive and hearing when love comes beckoning.

I’m beyond grateful for sharing this dream life adventure.

 

xo,

Nicole

 

I’ll be back with our travels through France, Italy and Sweden.

 

London 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlottesville

Appalled, horrified, regressing are the first words that come to my mind when I think of what is occurring with the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville.

I am screaming inside. HOW THE F IS THIS HAPPENING? It’s now far beyond anger, it’s a deep driving feeling of SOMETHING MUST CHANGE.

There is the part of me that watches what is happening. With a horrified knowing that something is absurdly wrong with our current paradigm. In the right agenda, this is being condoned and history repeating itself in what millions suffered and died because of and what our great grandfathers fought for in World War 2.

Asinine.

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Superiority is a primal tendency that comes from a time that we needed to fight for our lives to survive anything that posed a threat to our little cave dwellings. Fight or flight.

THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO.

How can it be that these primal tendencies still run the conscious programming of many? This is blind adherence to superior thinking that if left unchecked will continue to de-evolve our race.

Racism exists, sadly. To say it doesn’t would be burying one’s head in the sand and evading the the problems at hand. Racism and hatred are the antithesis to change and evolution. The type of indoctrinated fear that creates a separatist mindset is the epitome of ignorance and absolutely detrimental to human harmony and world peace.

It is the negative agenda: Divide and conquer, us vs them, through exactly this kind of programming. This agenda is perpetuated by a society that subtly feeds into the separatist factions which wants us to keep fighting based on such superfluous things such as race, creed, gender, class and more.

Rather than coming together despite said differences to realize that we’re essentially all part of one race.

The human race.

How and why? Think how much easier it is to control humans and keep them programmed into a conditioned, consumerist mindset if in a desperate state of fight or flight. Reacting from our amygdala and fear response mechanisms rather than our frontal lobe which governs our reasoning and problem solving.

 

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The collective consciousness is at a place that its never been and we are seeing the darkest shadows of our race come to the surface.

What can each of us do about it?

We are human and can and will stand in solidarity together to overcome this. Keep doing the work and activism that you’re doing to halt this type of ignorance and mindsets in their tracks. Through your communities, social media, protests and wherever you can, seek out groups that connect rather than disconnect, that bring us together rather than separate. That love rather than hate.

If we do the work together, we can make the change together. I pray for each and every human being on this planet, that we may all understand our interconnectedness and that what happens to every one if us is felt deep within this collective consciousness.

That in and of itself is something to revel in, dear human.

We all are on this planet together.

Coming together will be what counteracts the hatred and fear.

Our future depends on it.

 

Collective Consciousness

xo,

Nicole

Will you see BREASTS?

BREASTS

What is your take on them?

How do they make you feel?

Do you support them?

Do you use them?

Do they offend you?

How do you feel when you see them?

Have you ever had an incident with them that would cause a movie to be made?

We’re all human here so let’s digress a bit.

The topic of discussion for using the word Breasts in this post is the biological reason for why us women have them. Thus being…… Breastfeeding.

Moreover, breastfeeding in the workplace, leading us to the premise of Breasts The Film.

While I’m not a mom, as of yet, I’m passionate about this topic and working on this short film is powerfully moving. It’s based on a true story about a working mother who is slapped with a sexual harassment complaint when she explains she must pump her breasts to a coworker. Just imagine this scenario for a minute and the underlying implications of that happening.

The first thought when one hears breasts may be laced with an idea perpetuated from what it means to our society and collective mind frame. We live in a society that we’re blasted with images of T&A every day, yet a mom feels lambasted for saying a word that’s meaning is usually construed in a sexual way.

While this topic may feel that it’s centered around gender, as breastfeeding is an inherent part to being a female, this topic is a discussion for everyone. Moms have the capability to feed their babies milk that is designed for the biological makeup of each child. Quite genius of the body if you ask me.

Now this brings up the question of.

Where does the discomfort from this subject stem from and why is it stigmatized to an extent in our current society?

We have been receiving emails from women all over the country sharing their breastfeeding and pumping stories. It’s amazing to read the varying experiences moms have whether facing adversity or support for their choice, in the workplace and otherwise. Some feel supported by their colleagues and businesses, yet many feel slighted and stigmatized for their decision.

Whether one chooses to breastfeed and pump, or not, do you think there should be rights to protect and support moms in that decision?

It is, I imagine, a very personal and delicate decision, one that is intertwined with a feeling of vulnerability due to our current societal ideas and positions around it.

 

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I’m working with a brilliant team for the film, made up of some badass and talented women and some awesome men. We’ve been building the vision, creating momentum while creatively collaborating with one another in the multi-layered process that making a film entails. All the pieces are coming together, from special effects, to directing, to location scouting and event planning. It’s happening. Locally in New Orleans.

There is a movement of women in film that I find quite profound. Sophia Coppola just became the first female director in it’s 70 year history to win “Best Director” at the Cannes Film Festival. The female directed phenomenon Wonder Woman is taking the world for a wonder ride. While Ava DuVernay is taking Hollywood by storm.

Call it big or small, BREASTS has joined this women’s revolution, it feels grandiose in its breadth. Breasts is a film with a statement that has perhaps lain dormant, we’re giving voice to women, in the way we can, through it .

We’re doing a fundraiser on Seed and Spark, which is a fundraising platform for filmmaking. When we have 500 followers on Seed and Spark we get an awesome film incentive package. We don’t discriminate, little and big donations to Breasts are accepted. What size donation can you do? ; )          Seed and Spark for Breasts

Meet our incredible team and see what we’re up to and share your stories at Breasts The Film

 

xo,

Nicole

 

Knowing Unknown

If one does not take a step into the unknown, will one ever know?

Wisdom is a culmination of knowing and experience.

Which sometimes takes stepping into the uncomfortable.

In facing the unknown, challenges may appear. Like roadblocks, these challenges once overcome become epiphanies. It is through the layers unraveling that self-growth becomes apparent and makes the presence of the unknown, known.

Trusting instinctual guidance as a course of action has not always been the easiest process. Yet, in hindsight proves to be exactly what is needed.

Right now, I am taking on a challenge for myself; to live and creatively express in a new place, new way, new form.

Yet always coming from source, creating force.

Therefore, trust is the imperative word right now. Trust in self, life, universe, expression and unity within reality. Authentically.

Even when the path is unknown.

What does it look like to reveal the unseen?

xo,

Nicole

I’ll be back with a New Orleans post next.

Vipassana

To see things as they really are.

Observation.

A 10 day silent meditation course stemming from Gotama Buddha, over 2,500 years ago. Which, simply stated, is concentrating on the body, its sensations and the insight that this provides.

As a serious meditator for the past 10 years, having first practiced when I was 11 years old.  I could feel my discipline in practicing had been slacking for about two years. I signed up for Viapssana, knowing that 10 days with 10 hours a day of meditation would switch my discipline button back on.

I have done over a decade of inner growth and well being work, varying practices as a way to gain inner insight. Whether it be meditations, leadership and communication courses, detox regimes, Kundalini and Hatha Yoga,  Native American healing work, energy and sound therapy, Guru work……. I could go on….. 😉

Yet this was different than most anything I have undertaken.

It was putting effort into observation. Focus on respiration. Mindful of the sensations of the body, without allowing aversion or craving to take over, to allow old mind patterns that cause suffering and misery to become eradicated.

It sounds simple, sitting for hours, almost like a reTREAT.

Not quite. It was extremely hard work, training new parts of the mind to  work in a different way than what one is inherently programmed with.

 

The first four days were cold, stormy and rainy, trudging across the soggy grounds it felt miserable, synonymous with how my mind felt.  I couldn’t fathom how we could get through the rest of the course. It felt like one day was a week and my body felt uncomfortable sitting for so long. What gave me solace was the food. Vegetarian, delicious rice and curries and veggie dishes, soups and salads, prepared fresh every day.

At times I felt like

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Other time I felt a quality of beautiful inner

 

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Focus. Equanimity. Awareness. These were key words for the process, one that became intensely beautiful, with profound self-realizations. The technique is a practice which creates a foundation for self transformation and awareness.

The facilites we stayed at were simple, clean and nice. The break from the phone and internet to tune into the natural world was a relief, one that was much needed for my mind without any tech distractions.

The last 5 days of the course seemed to become lighter. The sun finally came out and at night the stars were vivid on the magical lands close to Yosemite. The 8th and 9th day something profound was happening, it felt as though my senses were super heightened and everything took on a technicolor hue, like a 5 dimensional quality. The silence became solace and I felt an unburdening of my layers of consciousness, which created a lighter, buoyant sense.

Vipassana is a practice, of mindfulness and awareness every moment. To be present, now. Relinquishing normal reactions to self or situations and taking a step back to allow observation to keep the mind in a place of equanimity. With discipline I feel this technique has the potential to enhance life immensely, I can sense a transformation from the 10 days.

My intentions when I left were to live a life of more joy, inner peace while radiating compassionate love.

 

xo,

Nicole

LAnniversary

Today is an anniversary for me. Of falling 18ft over a balcony onto cement only to have a broken arm. On a full moon nonetheless. Friday the 13th, 2013. On a whim had I had moved to LA a few weeks prior.

A catalyst to a new start. I know I chose to stay alive and live my purpose. One I’ve worked intensely for and the pieces all seem to be falling into a place in such a profound way, all at once. Like a puzzle what I didn’t know, I didn’t know.

Now.

I feel exceptionally grateful for what is happening in my life currently, the people in it and the momentum to imaginatively create my dreams. I’ve allowed ideas to flourish while working relentlessly towards them in the pursuit of purpose.

Since living in LA my experiences have been at times, exceptionally surreal. I strive every day towards my greatest and best. Even through my setbacks and perfectionism of questioning if there is a different way to be than the wayward, free-spirited way I am.

Yet, I know that’s only societal conditioning and surrender it when it comes up, to total self acceptance of the now. Knowing there is a meaning to the path I’ve chosen.

Destiny is taking me along its course and the people in my life astound me, I feel so fortunate. The experiences that I’ve had throughout life, have shaped who I am and for that I’m grateful. I feel deep love in my heart for living, life and what will come.

I’m elated for what the future holds.

xo,

Nicole

The Dead Sea

It was as though time pulled me into itself. Standing still in such mud-filled, salt floating wonder I beseechingly asked the question. “Aware of awareness, where does it arise from, how is it we consciously experience this finite existence?

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The hot dry emptiness and sun’s bright gaze burning away all shadows of doubt. My spirit strengthened as I eclipsed certain parts of myself while wandering. Walking through Masada I questioned how it was such a place was built.

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Ein Gedi’s waterfalls enlivening what felt to be joyful liberation and tranquility. Finding a hidden spot to relish the freshness of the waterfalls I felt the ease of the environment soak into me. Such exquisiteness.

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I chose Abraham tours for this day of sightseeing. The drive down to the Dead Sea winds with the pressure of going lower and lower and a quiet awe took over everyone on our bus. The dead sea comes into sight it’s cerulean blue amidst the sandy mountain terrain. A place of grandiose beauty filled me with awe struck wonder as the bus went lower. Surreal,  it felt like another world, with caves dotting the mountains that hid many secrets.

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Sinkholes made the roads impassable at certain points, detouring to new roads that were made. We were duly informed by our fabulous tour guide, that over the past 20 years, due to global warming, the Dead Sea has been drying up 3 meters a year. Spas built 15 years ago are now far away from what once was the shore.

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My DIATRIBE:

Such a stunning sea while floating in it, the health benefits from the sulphur to salt to mud are numerous. Yet 100 years from now, will it still be here? It put global warming into a very real perspective.

Because it’s drying up, at the beach I was at, plastics and non biodegradeble materials were stuck in the mud. I went around plucking them up and filling the garbage can, to help in the way I could, to preserve the gorgeousness of the sea.

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My mind started reeling. What is happening to the dead sea reinforced the notion that we are not prioritizing for 100-200 years from now, or our next 7 generations. How is it we have allowed the plundering of our resources to such a damaging effect on our planet?

We are polluting our air, soil and water, due to our reliance on fossil fuels and chemicals with no real solutions being offered.

What will happen to our resources? How is it they’ve become privatized and corporatized? Our reliance on fossil fuels is the biggest detriment to our environment and future, yet big money still wages itself in it. There are many more sustainable and green measures we as a race could and should be taking with our current environmental problems.

Hoping we could move into a more sustainable future in the upcoming years, to preserve the beauty of our gorgeous planet.

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xo,

Nicole

Jerusalem

“You’re not scared to be in Israel based on what they say in the news about the conflict?” I was asked many times. My answer “No, not at all.” My heart felt at home in Jerusalem, a feeling that felt like a deep surge of ancient wisdom. Knowing is hard to explain. Trusting it even more of a challenge. Explaining it can become nonsensical. This journey became a reclamation.

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Old City Walls

Old City:

The roots in Jerusalem go deep, winding throughout history with many ideas originated there still circulating throughout our world. Quite an unbelievable place given it’s the epicenter of Abrahamic religions.

Within the old city walls, there are quarters; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. A representation of everyone living and working amongst each other within the ancient walls.

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I am not religious, but honor the core spiritual tenets religions encompass. I’ve questioned throughout my life what I believe in, which is constantly evolving as I do. Many of the prophets which are at the heart of religions have similar messages: To be a good human.

I felt a release in my heart as I walked by a church singing prayers in Aramaic, such a beautiful sound, it rang like a song. Seeing some of the stations of the cross, feeling the intensity, I was lead to the Western Wall. I didn’t plan to go, it called me to it. Here there were deep prayers happening and some singing, before Shabbat started Friday night.

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Touching the wall, leaving my note, I prayed for peace and the thought came to me:

What does peace look like? Honoring traditions and still collectively moving beyond mindsets that separate and cause wars for our future generations to have a healthy existence. Including the mindset of greed that perpetuates the corporate stronghold on our planet which is destroying our natural resources.

I felt a reclamation of unity and what has been lost and fought in the name of religions. I know in my heart there is a peaceful way for us all to live in harmony and many things are collectively dismantling so we can see what the solutions will be.

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I found a spot that had wine and cheese, people were gathered outside at tables. Here I met a group of  Palestinians. While talking I asked them about the conflict, which from a perspective in the west seems extremely tense. I was told “We’re like cousins, we work together, live together, we come here every day from Bethlehem, the sensationalism in your news is not the way it is over here.”  I was invited to go to Bethlehem, next time I visit I most certainly will.

I heard from local Israelis as well a resounding “We all just want to live our lives, hopefully in peace.”

The Holocaust Museum: 

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The building itself is ingeniously designed, leading from one room to another in a zig zagging way. Inside, the videos, pictures and remnants are intense, sad, horrendous yet important to be seen. Honoring the past and victims, so as history never repeats itself in that way.

I saw this quote, which has been circulating recently, bringing tears to my eyes:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

  ~ Martin Niemöller

Perfuniq:

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I had my own custom made perfume at Perfuniq, which my flatmate from my airbnb, whom I’ll call Mariella who is so sweet, warm and hospitable, brought me to. Here I met the owner who makes all the scents and his wife, both incredibly nice. It took about an hour, tailored for me to what I liked and my preferences,  based on my answers. A proper scent-sation. Such a brilliant place, I loooove my perfume, we decided the name is “The Painted Veil”

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Local Jerusalem:

On Saturday to honor Shabbat many places are closed. I went to a local place that was open, meaning not Kosher. I had a delicious dinner and met another American. Our discussion ranging from biology to dark matter, to the quantum enigma and more. Mind blown would be an understatement, my mind was righteously bent after conversing.

Local Jerusalem life felt like home. If you’re ever in Jerusalem I highly recommend staying at Mariella’s place, contact me if so. At this Airbnb, I was invited to eat homemade food with friends and family members of Mariella’s and learned new Israeli recipes which were so scrumptious. Like Israeli salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and lemon, so refreshing and tasty. Pita sandwiches with flavorful tahini, pickles and tuna with eggs, veggies and fresh herbs. Pasta that was so fresh tasting, most of the ingredients from the local market with a bit of spiciness that lingered in the garlic sauce.

Sai Baba.

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From experience, I understood that family is important to Israeli culture. People have migrated there from all over the world. There is a merging of cultures with similar values; cherishing family, community and tradition.

I talked love, relationships, dating, the world, culture, customs and the process of coming into self-love as a woman in our modern age, with Mariella. Even though we live thousands of miles away, our ideas were of a similar nature. Love in a relationship coming from a healthy place, being patient for the right “him’ to come along. Even if not, being happy with self no matter what. When self care is honored, it means caring for others at full capacity. Reciprocity.

I left at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, with a sendoff of beautiful wishes and a fresh pomegranate. My intentions were to release all the ways I blundered the past year and welcome with an open heart what will enter for the new year.

Toda Raba

xo,

Nicole

I’ll be posting soon about the Dead Sea and Eilat. Much more of what I experienced  will be highlighted in my memoir.