Category Archives: Nicole’s Brainisms

Holiday Wit & Wisdom – 2012 Edition


Everyone collects something – vinyl records, microbrewery pint glasses, Facebook friends.

I collect quotes.

They’re splashed all over my home and hundreds of them are stashed in a running Word document on my laptop. They span the breadth of great philosophers like the 17th century’s Blaise Pascale to our modern-day Alain de Botton. There are wise words from Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, e.e. cummings, Thomas Edison, Leonard Cohen, Helen Keller, Anais Nin, and Clay Shirky. And where would we be in 2012 without a few choice musings from Carrie Bradshaw, “thirtysomething”’s Miles Drentel, and of course, Ron Burgundy.

Maybe it’s this whole being-a-writer thing, but these words of wisdom and revelation help ground me. They serve as a muse when it’s time to sit in front of a blank page. And they’re also a diary of sorts; I can scroll through the document and see the lessons I was learning at different points in my life: self-discovery, independence, creative struggles, love, connection, happiness, motivation.

As many of you know, this has been a big year for me – filled with change, adventure, and uncertainty. Such is the drill when you meet an amazing man and, nine days later, he learns he’s being relocated to Montreal (details here). That whole experience + turning 40 (!) + a painfully slow first six months of the business year = a sizable chunk of time spent reflecting on what I’ve learned over the past four decades, and the lessons I want to carry with me into this next phase of life. Without a doubt, the most significant is the one at the top of this post: “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”

Throughout 2012, I’ve often sat down to sift through the quotes, add a few more to the list, and think about what I’ve learned. In doing so, I also started jotting down quotes of my own – words that have tumbled from my lips in conversation, leapt from my fingertips in blog posts, and illuminated my brain during personal light bulb moments. Some of them were fairly quick and simple revelations that struck me out of the blue; others were gleaned through painstaking, lengthy, sometimes-heartbreaking experiences whose lessons didn’t register for years.

I believe one of the greatest gifts is that of story and wisdom gleaned from a life lived. So in this season of giving, I’m passing along my “40 Things I Know at 40.” Although all those philosophers and visionaries and whatnot are inspiring, these are my own words. My hope in sharing them is that you’ll think about your life lessons and pay them forward – to lift someone’s spirits, soothe them during strife, encourage them to step back, or inspire them to push forward.

Wishing you love, laughs, wit, wisdom, and many blessings this season and in 2013,


40 Things I Know at 40

  1. If you have your health, people you love, and meaningful work that brings you joy, you have the cake AND the icing. Everything else is just sprinkles.
  2. Surround yourself with authentic, positive people. But first – cultivate your own authenticity and positive outlook. Then you won’t depend on anyone else to define your life direction or mood.
  3. Whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing, make it the center of your world at that moment.
  4. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we have the power to tell them what’s bothering us. It’s up to them if they want to change – and it’s up to us if we want to wait or walk.
  5. It’s much scarier – but far more rewarding – to blaze your own trail. As Elle’s great E. Jean Carroll says, “Never look for a job when you can create a job.”
  6. Chasing prestige guarantees you will always feel empty. Instead, chase what feels good, brings meaning, makes you lose track of time, and makes other people smile.
  7. It’s better to be alone than be with someone and feel alone.
  8. Wheat, dairy, and sugar hate pretty much everyone’s guts.
  9. If you find yourself feeling hopeless, rattled, pessimistic, or drained in someone’s presence, stop spending time with them.
  10. Whatever you imagine will happen, often will. Be aware of the worst outcome, but assume the best one will occur. Nothing is foolproof but it certainly feels a hell of a lot better to believe the future warrants Ray-Bans.
  11. Always take the risk. Failure is better than forever wondering “what if.” And success never sucks.
  12. If you’re alive, it’s not too late.
  13. Always make time for rest and fun. Burnout is real and will slowly kill you.
  14. Learn to love your own company – hold court at a table for one, take solo vacations, attend concerts and museums and movies alone.
  15. We actually control very little in our lives. Almost everything is a transaction, and thus dependent on the action of someone else. All we can do is get out of bed and try. The rest is up to the world.
  16. The certain past often seems less daunting than the uncertain future, but going backwards is rarely the answer.
  17. Be a dabbler. Try new things, try lots of things, even if you’re just sticking your toe in the water. Life is really fun if you’re a jack of many trades AND a master of something.
  18. Success on anyone’s terms but your own is not success.
  19. There is great power in vulnerability. Only when you make yourself vulnerable – and make your needs known, even if the anxiety of expressing them makes your knees buckle – can you get your needs met and make progress in your relationships.
  20. Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for somebody else. (That goes for this list, BTW! Take or leave any of it…no hard feelings. :->)
  21. Everyone is worthy of love and kindness. Other than that, no one owes you anything.
  22. If you’ve been knocking on one door for a long time – to the point where you’re taking an axe to it – you’re probably missing dozens of open doors behind you. At least one of them probably leads to something much better than what’s behind the closed door. Put down the axe and turn around.
  23. Learn the difference between your gut instinct and fear – they feel eerily similar.
  24. Forget the expectations you had last year or five years ago or when you graduated college. What do you want based on who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow?
  25. Life scripts are boring, and well-paved paths are the best way to get stuck in a traffic jam.
  26. Strive to be a whole person – embrace and express all sides of yourself.
  27. Having it all depends on how you define “all.” Figure out what that means to you.
  28. Whether in life or behind the wheel, detours are fun – and often lead you to places you never imagined.
  29. Life is not a case of “either/or” but of “yes AND” (props to my improv training :->)
  30. Busyness is not a virtue. It’s usually an escape.
  31. Sometimes you have to let go of what you want and love what’s on your plate.
  32. Constantly striving for the next thing – job, relationship, whatever – and assuming that THEN you’ll be happy is bullshit. Stop moving the goal posts and find a way to be happy now. The rest will take care of itself.
  33. Define what you want – visualize it, write it down. As clearly as you can. Then let it go. Some people will tell you to do one or the other…do BOTH.
  34. Focusing on what’s wrong just begets more of what’s wrong.
  35. Hatred, judgment, and intolerance are never the answer. Try love, compassion, and kindness instead.
  36. It’s not anyone else’s job to take care of our feelings or make sure our needs are met.
  37. “Life is short” is not an excuse to behave irresponsibly.
  38. The first thing we do to take care of ourselves is put a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs, and money in the bank. If you’re not meeting these essentials, everything else you’re doing to “take care of yourself” is extraneous.
  39. If you can learn to forgive yourself – and be gentle with yourself – you’ll find you have more compassion for others. And it improves your interactions with everyone around you.
  40. We often hear, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.” But there’s actually no destination. Life IS the journey. When the journey’s over, you’re dead. So enjoy it, embrace it, squeeze the love out of every minute.

It’s heeeeeerrrrrre!!!

Just like a baby, it was nine months in the making, but I finally birthed that sucker – and the all-new, new-and-improved, sparkling, shiny is live and open for business!*

Step right up and take a gander – we’ve got new photos, new copy, and new samples of sassy, saucy writing for you to peruse. Most importantly, please subscribe to the new blog. You can do so via email or RSS – whichever tickles your pickles – right there on the home page. Yeah, I know I haven’t posted anything yet. Gimme a break, I’m still delivering the web placenta. I promise to pop the new blog cherry within a week.

And oh ho, dear readers – lest you be a-wonderin’, Nicopedia will never die! At least, like most of us (hopefully), not for a while. Since That Other Site is publicly promoted and open to client eyes, I gotta watch the tongue a bit more over there. So you can still come here for doses of raunch, inappropriateness, and random musings.

I’ll always gladly oblige.

*Very, very special thanks to Amy Turner, Philipp Privado, and Alyssa McCoy for making this happen. And so beautifully at that.

So where the F is your new website, woman?!


Settle down, pilgrims. The world threw me a ton of curve balls, including one very big fantastic one on January 13th, when I met my true trumpet-playing love. Who is also my true trumpet-playing love here. It seems that soulmates do exist outside of Shakespeare sonnets and strip-mall Hallmarks, especially when you throw your pride (and your ‘tude) to the wind, post an OKCupid profile, and find the love of your life four days later.

That’s right, I’ve eaten my self-righteous words about online dating – and they taste damnfanfuckingtastic.

I will save delicious details for another post / essay / (memoir?), but in a nutshell, I now live in two cities, on two coasts, in two countries – one of which rarely speaks my native tongue and since I know not a lick of Francais, it makes for very sexy customer service interactions. Of course, as glamorous and glorious as all this may be, you can imagine how it sorta feels like being on a non-stop Tilt-A-Whirl. Thrilling, terrifying, and sometimes you wonder if you might hurl. Which means other goals take a back seat, just outside the Tilt-A-Whirl entrance, with a puke bag and a shit-ton of patience.

Let it be known: I’ve now emerged. Retch receptacle unnecessary. Bandwagon boarded.

That said, the shinysnazzynew that was said to launch in January is now in the final coding phase. So the launch is coming – very, very soon. I won’t promise a date because I’m still wiping egg off my nose from the last time I served up that shizz (and also, after all my years at MSFT, you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson about publicizing launch dates…ahem). But I will promise this – it looks FABULOUS. And I’m mucho jazzed to start the essay blog that will be a prime feature of the new site. In the meantime, this post’s photo is a little sneak preview.

God, I’m such a tease.

Happiness & joy from me to you

In no particular order:

That photo to the right? That’s a magnet on my fridge and it rocks. I got it in Maui and no, I don’t know where you can find it in any other locale. But search for it online if it tickles your fancy.

My amazing former-ballerina Pilates instructor in NYC, who kicked my ass into the best shape it’s ever been, has a YouTube channel! People, this woman gave me the long, lean muscles that cause massage therapists to ask, “Are you a dancer?” Oh yeah, that shit’s real, though we won’t talk about the flab layer over said muscles that proves I enjoy eating. I’ve missed Gina’s workouts like they’ve gone off to war or something – and BTW, if you don’t feel breathless and in pain after you do these, you’re fucking them up. Form’s key, y’all. “Scoop” your abs (as Gina says – i.e., pull your belly button away from your shirt) and squeeze the muscles you’re working on as you do these exercises. You’ll die for sure, but you’ll have an ass that can grate Parmesan.

This candle in my living room smells like a pumpkin shit 40 homemade pies and I think everything about that is completely delicious.

Kale and delicata. It’s what’s for dinner.

There’s nothing like a very hipster holiday. I’ve been listening to this like a lunatic. Also, a bit o’ trivia: every time I close my eyes while listening to Zooey Deschanel speak, I hear the identical voice of my NYC biz partner, Demetra. I miss her crazily, but it makes me happy.

My clients are getting these this year. Yes, each and every individual person I work with gets their own box of loot. Aren’t they lucky ducks?! I ordered them all today because I have OCD and problems with anal retentiveness.

I’m totally bewildered by the holiday spirit I’m bursting with this year. It’s been many years since I gave a rat’s nut about the holly-days. I don’t know what the fuck is up, but seize the day and whatnot. I might even buy this because you know I can’t even decorate like a “normal” (*retch* traditional *retch*) person – shock! awe! madness!

Ari’s update from the road in the great southwest made me piss and snort: “In Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Thinking about karma and chimichangas.”

Here’s wishing all of you good karma this Chrismukkahwanzaa season!

My private parts are more notorious than me

So while trolling the internet to assemble clips for the soon-to-be-new-and-improved, I see that my bikini wax essay made a repeat appearance on Yahoo Shine last summer. “Back by popular demand!” it says. Duuuude.

I think the heir to this throne will be my experience attending the “How to Please Your Man” workshop in NYC. Alone. Because my friend ditched me. And I put a condom on a carrot with my mouth and wondered where the fuck I’d lost my dignity, while the instructor in a Wonder Woman belt extolled the virtues of the “connection” between a couple in the porno she was screening while we all worked our root vegetables.


Some stuff of note

I’ve become obsessed with skulls. And not because it’s Halloween! This has been going on for a few months now. It might have something to do with wanting to kill most of my clients (more on that in a mo). I’ve been on the hunt for a fabulous pair of silver skull stud earrings – and coming up dry. So…I’ve commissioned my even-more-fabulous jewelry designer cousin to work his magic for me. He’s way into the macabre stuff and it’s groovy. I’m monstermash-excited.

Stress can suck it. Yes, July – November is always my busy season. But this year’s madness was of gargantuan proportions – we’re talking 14- to 16-hour days for six weeks straight and me writing roughly 50 (I stopped counting at 43) separate communication pieces during that stretch. That includes two 23-page benefit decision guides (titillating, I know), dozens of emails, posters, postcards, letters, banner ads, web content, PowerPoint prezos, Godhelpme. And let’s not forget the strategist and project manager roles of my gig. That’s actually what really was getting me – the mistakes that were being made once I handed work off to the clients (hello people – it’s like a relay race…I pass you the baton, in excellent condition, exactly when I’m supposed to, then you run with it…don’t come back and make me run your leg!). So yeah, it was good times. And yet, not for naught: this level of insanity is what pushed me over the edge with regard to my professional direction. And how drastically – and promptly – it needs to change. People, my ass literally did not move from my desk chair for an inhumane amount of time. And what does that do? It sends one running to the doctor with chest pains, acid reflux, and back pain. Twice in two months. For someone who generally only visits the MD once a year for the tune-up, that ain’t cool.

And here’s what else stress does (at least to my bod): it turns into an egg allergy. An egg allergy!!! WTF! Eggs are my life – for someone who keeps a meat- and dairy-free home (sans the half-and-half…let it go), this is hell on wheels. Plus, let’s not forget how much STUFF has eggs in it!! And yes – THIS is what was causing my chest and back pain, as well as the cough and phlegminess I had going on. Here they were checking me for heart probs and a pulmonary fucking embolism, and it seems I’ve simply had such elevated stress levels that I’m releasing a massive quantity of histamine that has made me sensitive to…eggs. Of note: this happened to me with shrimp and strawberries in my teens, and let’s not forget the hives I developed during the last year of my marriage (for the *entire* year). And so I wait for this too to pass. It’s the curse of being an emotional intuitive. Seriously – click that link and let’s talk about why I’ve had temporary allergies my whole life and a uterus that bleeds off-cycle during times of emotional duress – not to mention when I’m absorbing the emotional pain of someone in my life. Yeah.

In sunnytime news, Maui is a *delight*. There were times over the past few months when I wasn’t sure I’d make it to October 28th – when all my projects would be shipped and I’d be about to ship myself to Alohaville. But they shipped and I shipped, and the next eight days look something like this:

7:30 a.m. (yes, really!) – Wake up to blue skies, sunshine, ocean breezes, and native birds chirping.

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast on the lanai. Legendary veggie scramble is of course kiboshed. Poo. But that’s OK – toast with almond butter suits just fine, especially alongside all the exotic fruit that’s being nibbled. This morning featured a strawberry papaya. Will make like the Terminator and be back for more o’ dat.

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Beach walks/runs, ocean swims, snorkel time, shop perusing, fresh seafood and more exotic fruit eating, island drives, journaling, snoozing.

5:00 p.m. – Beachfront happy hour…sunset…right into dinner.

10:00 p.m. – Lights out. Early to bed = miracle of epic proportions. But so tired…so happy…so cozy.

And the next day, more of this kinda memory-making. Mahalo. 🙂

Irene, you’re my kinda lady

That promise about final dildo post*? Complete bullshit.

We have a major national emergency on our hands here, people – which is that Irene is shacking up with a rusty dildo and there’s photographic evidence to prove it.

Though one wonders – is a corroded knob the result of underuse or overuse? And who else thinks this apparatus looks like a rotten frozen banana?

*Thanks MKR, for inspiring this post by um, turning me on, to important dildo news.

See, I’m not the only person who still sleeps with a stuffed animal

This person does too.

(Though, in all fairness, my Yofi dog has his own pillow. So I actually sleep next to him. He’s not much of a cuddler. I also got him at Barneys. Which is cool.)


Thanks, CD, for this monstrous chunk of truth and wisdom.

Speaking of “Hallelujah,” I’m rather partial to this version these days. If this doesn’t give you a chill and make you even just a bit weepy, you bleed ice cubes.

You know you’re overworked when…

…you hear yourself saying these words to a biz partner:

“No, you don’t ASK the client, you TELL the client. It’s our job to recommend strategy, not ask them to figure it out themselves. Honest to God, are you a consultant or a concubine?”

OMG, this is only the beginning of my busy season and already I need a break. Calgon, Chardonnay, heavy petting, something.