I Have No Idea What I Want To Do Next And That’s TOTALLY OK!

I’ve written a few times this year, to reminisce on a year in San Diego, losing our rescue mutt, getting laid off, and how I’m doing in 2020; however, I want to touch on the following: I have no idea what I am going to do next in life, and that’s totally OK.

Let’s jot down the factors that are leading into that notion:

  • There’s a pandemic
  • I am a military spouse, and my husband is deployed
  • We are moving to Hawaii sometime in 2021
  • I volunteer for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
  • I hold a board position for my command’s Family Readiness Group (FRG)
  • I have enjoyed exploring some cool projects, like my podcast
  • I am working on my mental and physical health
  • I am raising a puppy by myself
  • For once in my life, I don’t dread Mondays

The pandemic has given me so much time to think, marinate, and reflect. It’s also given me much needed space to heal, and let go. So much of my career I have been underpaid, underemployed, overworked, and unappreciated. Now, as I have had the much needed time to balance my life out, I am realizing what’s most important to me.

For 10 years I have marketed for people’s companies, products, and ideas. I’ve called the shots, and I have also had the shots called for me. I’ve been expected to be a jack of all trades, and master them all. I have been an entire marketing department more times than I can count, expected to be the expert in every single area of a campaign. As a millenial in the work force, this is exhausting. The fragility and replacement of marketing departments is nothing new. If the money goes, the marketing department goes. So the story shall be written, and they will find someone younger to do your job for cheaper.

Maybe I just haven’t found the right company, or the right job yet. Perhaps I am in the totally incorrect work field, or maybe my calling has yet to be discovered. Regardless, I am admitting that it is OK for me to say that I do not have it all figured out, and do not know what my next chapter holds.

This year has taught me a lot. One of the biggest things, is that as a military spouse I am severely underserved in the workforce, and seen as temporary. While I am not unique in being a spouse, I have a big heart for every family member in a service household. Being a spouse is not easy, and it is something I have shied away from associating myself with for the previous sentiments.

In many ways, there are sadly only so many paths you can go down as a spouse. Suffice to say, many spouses are extremely educated, and have had brilliant careers before the military pulled them away from them. The paths are as follows: you can be married to your spouse, and sacrifice all of your liberties for their career (as many of us do), you can choose to have children and stay at home, you can get sucked into a Pyramid Scheme, or you can be married to your career and your partner.

I used to believe that as soon as an employer knew I was a military spouse, it’s over and done with. While, a totally negative way to think about things, it’s not always the case. I have had many seasoned spouses give me amazing advice over the last few years. Most recently, this nugget from my captain’s wife helped me reframe my state of mind.

“Never think of yourself as temporary. You being a spouse makes you an asset. Why see it as a weakness, when it only means you’re a harder worker willing to make a bigger splash for the time in which you are there. When I see a spouse, I see someone capable of so much.”

In falling in love with someone in the military, I never questioned that I’d be able to find work wherever I go. For me, I always thought I would be employable. That perhaps Denver was the tough market, and that San Diego would be a brighter future. In a lot of ways, I do believe that San Diego really did open a lot of doors for me. For an entire year of the two years we will be here, I was employed steadily. I did some awesome stuff, met a lot of cool people, and even purchased a home; however, a pandemic happened, and here we are.

These days, I am realizing more and more that the piece of me I tried so hard to hide and disassociate myself with has ultimately become a far greater part of me than I had ever imagined. That the respite I thought I would feel at my previous employer, and with my coworkers when my husband deployed was not correct. Instead, it has come in the form of my military community.

If you are not someone who has had a loved one, or family member in the military, perhaps you won’t understand just how much harder this year has been for military families. I know it is hard for everyone, but my liberties were tightened to protect my husband. If I got him sick due to willful negligence, it could have been horrible for his entire department, or ship. While I saw the rest of the world go back to what they were doing before “safe and socially distanced” in May/June time, I would agonize over wether or not both of us should go grocery shopping, or if we could go anywhere without fear of running into anyone in the command.

So, when you add a deployment on top of the pandemic, it makes things even more isolating. I don’t even know where to begin talking about it, so I don’t want to give it space in this post. I am strong, resilient, and can get through this; however, with a move looming on the horizon, I am overwhelmed with the possibility of the future.

There is one really bright ray of hope in my life right now, which has been my volunteering for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. When I volunteer for them, I am directly helping active duty Navy, Marines, and their dependents. When I volunteer, I am know I am making a difference, which has led me to think about what I want next for myself in a career.

My next role, wherever it may be, must uphold many of the values that I firmly believe in:

  • It will not see military spouses as temporary
  • It will have something to do with the government or military
  • It will make a difference greater than it’s sum, meaning that it will not be a gigantic for-profit organization
  • It will understand veterans, active duty service members, dependents, and their community

So while I have no idea what I am doing next, I do have an idea of where I’d like my ship to sail. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what I do next, so long as I have my husband in my court cheering me on. He is worth every single sacrifice.

I am Doing Great in 2020, Thanks For Asking!

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I think there’s this need to feel sorry for others when they lose their job and given a pandemic, it’s easy to feel an overwhelming need to check on our peers to make sure they are doing ok. While the sentiment is amazing, and I appreciate people from all walks of life checking in on me, I just need you to know that you have nothing to worry about. Here’s the thing, I’m doing great! Honestly, I’ve never been better. I encourage you to take a page from my playbook and look at 2020 as an amazing year of self-introspection and growth.

Sure, I got laid off. Sure, I lost my job like the many millions of Americans, but I am focusing on self-improvement, my hobbies, and my passion projects. I have never felt better about myself, or what I put out into the world. This year has allowed me to figure out what drives my soul, and what kind of work I want to do next. I will be the first to tell you that marketing will always have space in my career, but it will no longer be my means to feel fulfilled.

At the beginning of this pandemic, I started a podcast about Imposter Syndrome, called “Please Don’t Kick Me Out“. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of being found out to be a fraud, and I felt that every day in my career as a marketer. It is a human emotion, and everyone feels this to some degree. Since the end of March of 2020, I have released a weekly episode on Anchor.fm, and it is available wherever you get your podcasts. At the time of writing this, I am 17 episodes in and have interviewed people all over the world. I started out interviewing my friends, and now have the incredible opportunity to talk to people all over the world from all walks of life.

When we think about all the time we have had on our hands, I also took the time to work on myself. I finally had the time to get the diagnosis I needed. I have Adult ADHD, and have suffered from it my whole life. As a kid, I was told I was disruptive. My parents never got me diagnosed, nor medicated, when I definitely needed it! In this pandemic, I found it near impossible to complete tasks, and admittedly, it made me extremely depressed. After finding the right doctor, an amazing therapist, and a small dose of medication once daily, I am doing the best I have ever been. After advocating for therapy for years, I finally took my own advice, and have found a therapist. It has been so helpful to understand the pieces of myself that I didn’t know needed to be unraveled and ironed out. The stigma that surrounds mental health, and admitting when we need help needs to be abolished. I am not ashamed for seeking the help I need, and encourage anyone to talk to someone if they need it.

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Bourdain and I, July 2020 – 12 Weeks Old

Therapy has been so helpful, especially because I suffered a deep loss during this year. We lost our senior boy Murphy, in May, but welcomed a new puppy into our home at the end of June. Bourdain is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, from Diamond Valley Ranch. He is a total joy, and while we are sad and miss Murphy every day, we are taking this time to heal and experience the abundance of love that comes from 4 paws and puppy kisses. Bourdain is named after Anthony Bourdain, and perhaps we are biased, but we believe that he embodies everything that man stood for.

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Early March 2020, when I celebrated 1,000 rides on my Peloton bike in the San Diego Showroom.

I have been working on my physical health as well! I have been riding my Peloton bike more than before, and feel a newfound pride in being a Peloton owner. Not only has it been amazing for my physical health, but the workouts and sense of community have been incredible for my mental health as well. After having the Peloton for over 2 years, I can still vouch that it is the greatest piece of exercise equipment. The Peloton is one of the best investments we have done for our health.

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A picture from Pride 2019, when I initially started volunteering with MARYAH.

I am continuing to sit on the board of directors for MARYAH, which has spent the last 15+ years supporting The San Diego LGBTQ Community Center’s Sunburst Youth Housing Project through bi-annual fundraisers in the summer and fall. Due to COVID-19, our organization has had to get creative with fundraising efforts for the safety of our community. We are taking to the virtual streets in 2020 to continue to raise money for this amazing initiative. 

I am passionate about this organization because I have a personal tie to youth homelessness. I have had friends be kicked out for their sexuality, and being who they are. These youth are the most at risk, and need your support! I personally identify with my LGBTQIA+ family in the need to feel wanted and accepted, as my family has not always been accepting of me. I feel deeply committed to the Sunburst Youth Housing Project, as it helps youths 18-24 get on their feet, and integrate into society. If you are interested in donating to our cause, please do so here.

As an activist and ally for equality, I have found my voice louder and stronger than ever to support our black community in the Black Lives Matter movement. I have been using my podcast as a platform for change, and also been donating like crazy to black-owned businesses, black artists, and helping with activism in my community. My support did not just stop with posting a black square on #BlackoutTuesday, it continues even now when the media isn’t covering the protests as much.

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My husband and I after celebrating our wedding in Las Vegas, 2018.

I am a military spouse, a navy wife, and damn proud of it. I am no longer afraid to tell people that my husband is in the military for fear of their reaction, or thinking that I am less than or not permanent in my career. I am supportive of my spousal community and plan to use my activism and voice to help other spouses in the military in future career endeavors.

Being a military spouse during this pandemic has been very weird, and eventually, I will be enduring a deployment; however, I have found a newfound strength in my ability to handle anything. I am so deeply proud of my husband, and everything that he does for our little family. I have leaned into my community more than ever in 2020, and feel a deep sense of belonging, where I previously felt like an outsider. Many times, I have found that it is harder to relate to civilians who may not have ever had a tie to the military, but I am glad I have a community that understands what I am going through.

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An example of one of the hobbies I have picked up during this pandemic.

When boredom prevails, I choose to pick up a new skill. I have picked up several new hobbies, including crafting. Something I never thought I was good at! I am now an avid hair bow maker, using ribbon and centerpieces to create joy for my friends and family.

So I guess, suffice to say, when people tell me that they are bored during the pandemic, I can’t really sympathize. Every day I wake up and work on what makes me feel fulfilled and happy. Sure, I may have lost my job, but I look at everything I have gained, and I am so happy with the person I am allowing myself to be. The person I was meant to be all along is myself, and I am proud of being able to accept who I am and what I have to offer this world.

If you’re struggling during 2020, reframe your state of mind. What can you do to change that narrative? I keep saying that you cannot come out of this pandemic worse than you went into it.

XO,

Bianca

Saying Goodbye To Our Best Friend

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Photo 2019, via Iliana Ingram.

Unfortunately, during COVID-19, our senior dog decided to tell us it was his time to go. After weeks of strange behavior, and multiple conversations with our vet, we knew we had to make a very painful decision.

On May 9, 2020, we chose the humane decision to say goodbye to our baby, Murphy. While this came as a shock to many of our friends and family, we knew that this was what was best for him. In the week leading up to his appointment, we made sure he got to eat and experience all of his favorite things.

Nothing will ever prepare you for the loss of a pet. There is equally nothing anyone can say that makes it better. Often times, we hold on for far longer than we should while our animals suffer. We are heartbroken, and grieving heavily.

Murphy was loved so immensely by everyone that we knew. He was, by nature, a very loving and loyal dog. I may never meet another animal that loved me the way Murphy did. A huge chunk of my heart feels like it is missing, and I am so incredibly lost without him.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We gave him a wonderful life for 6 years after he was abandoned in the shelter at age 5. We spoiled him rotten, and let him on all of our furniture, and he slept next to us every night. We purchased our home in San Diego with him in mind and gave him a very comfortable life towards the end.

I will never forget all that Murphy taught me about being a dog owner. If you’d like to learn more about Murphy, please read this.

Until We Meet Again, Sweet Boy.

XO,

Bianca

COVID-19: Into The Unknown For Now

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Hi Friends!

I am on day ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of whatever quarantine I am on, and writing this from the safety of my home. I am practicing extreme social distancing, while also trying to flatten the curve.

Like many people right now, I have lost my job. Through no fault of my own, sometimes non-essential employees must go amidst economic changes in the market. I worked at a for-profit business for a branch housed underneath a Fortune 500 company, and when the economy swings, marketing may not always make sense. I learned a lot of amazing things at my previous role, gained lifelong friendships, and left on good terms; however, I can’t say it doesn’t suck.

It is unfortunate to lose my job amidst the COVID-19 crisis, but I am taking this time to focus on the things I am grateful for. Before I dive into that, let’s state the obvious: It super sucks!

Here are the things I have done a lot of since getting laid off…

  • Cried
  • Ate my weight in Lean Cuisine
  • Rode my Peloton
  • Played Animal Crossing
  • Cried some more
  • Watched Frozen 2 more than once
  • Drank my way through a few too many White Claws
  • Cried even more

And eventually, after you have felt sorry for yourself for a few too many crying sessions, you realize that this is the creative opportunity you have needed. If there’s one thing I know about myself, is that I have an incredible knack for networking and helping those in my life that need it.

I know that my situation is not unique, and that the job market is inundated with people in my exact predicament; however, I refuse to view this as a setback in my career. While we are all practicing extreme social distancing, and hopefully all spending time in our homes, I would be remiss to not reflect on the good in my life amongst uncertainty.

First and foremost, I am grateful my husband is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, so that I don’t have to worry about things like healthcare, benefits, etc. We also don’t have to worry about him being laid off, as there is no such thing as that. Secondly, I am grateful I own my own home, and do not have to worry about scrambling to find another rentable unit. And third, I am grateful for the opportunities that my previous role has granted me.

I understand that I am in a better position than most, and I say that as humbly as I can. My heart breaks for those that do not have the same opportunities that we do, and I want you to know, in my past…I have been there too.

Now, let’s talk positives…

Positives from getting laid off among a global pandemic include…

  • My husband and I started small home renovation projects, which we haven’t had the time to do since purchasing the house in September
  • My husband was able to take leave to spend time with me in forced quarantine
  • I suddenly have a lot of creative time on my hands, which has allowed me to think about the things I am passionate about
  • I have been able to cook more, and with more creativity than ever before
  • I have talked to more friends, family, and network in the last few weeks than I have in years
  • I am seeing my communities (Facebook Groups, NextDoor etc) stepping up to help one another out
  • I have a Peloton bike, so I have no excuse not to workout
  • I get to hang out with my dog all day, which is awesome

So with that being said, and one too many times watching Elsa be an absolute badass in Frozen 2, I dub “Into The Unknown” my unemployment anthem. This power ballad might have been made for kids, but it’s a damn bop.

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This lyric set speaks to me the most, but the entire song is too good…

What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Every day’s a little harder as I feel your power grow
Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go
Into the unknown?

My husband is sick of hearing me play this on repeat, but I feel like it’s message speaks to me in so many ways. I am about to go ‘Into the Unknown‘ in my career, and my next creative venture. As I mentioned, I have a lot of creative time on my hands. So, I am excited to announce that I bit the bullet, and am starting a podcast.

I have listened to podcasts for years, and really love them on my commute, so starting my own is something I have wanted to do for awhile. I’ve always been very interested in imposter syndrome, and the idea of belonging, but have not seen a podcast that spoke directly on the topic in the way I wish to explore it.

“Please Don’t Kick Me Out” is a podcast about nothing, and everything all at once. This podcast is about ‘imposter syndrome’, and exploring the idea that no one really feels like they belong. I will interview my friends and people that inspire me, to understand what success looks like to them. Does anyone really have it figured out? Let’s find out.

Available soon, wherever you get your pods! Please visit my official site on Anchor for more information. I hope that you will enjoy it, and subscribe.

I hope if you are reading this, you are staying safe. Please continue to stay the fuck home if you can to help flatten the curve. This disease will get worse before it gets better, and we should all do our part. Also, If you know of any marketing openings in San Diego, or remote, throw them my way.

Let’s not dwell negatively on what in which we cannot control, and remember that any setback in our professional lives can always be turned around. I’m chosing to remain hopeful, are you?

With Kindness,
Bianca

A Year in Review: Welcome to America’s Finest City

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On our way to San Diego (There was no Colorado exit sign on our route).

Greetings from San Diego, California!

It’s been a crazy year. Exactly one year ago, we were embarking on our move to San Diego. We didn’t know where we would live, nor where I would work. We had no idea what new adventures awaited us in San Diego, but I knew it had to be better than Denver…and it is.

Sorry, Denver! You’ll always have my heart, but life is good here. After living in one place for nearly 9 years, I was so ready for change. And boy did it come in waves.

My husband and our dog Murphy landed in San Diego at the end of March last year and got the keys to an apartment we had never seen in person (thanks to the power of Bumble BFF and smartphone technology for our impulse lease signing from across the country). We ended up living in Golden Hill, and after many trips to the NEX and IKEA, made a cute 2bed/2bath apartment off the 94 freeway our own.

I took a job in Mission Valley pretty quickly upon arrival and had no idea how smart of a decision that would end up being. Moving away from 19 years of friendship, and my family was hard, but suddenly I had a focus: a job.

I started another decade, and turned 30 in June! For only living in San Diego for a few months at the time, I managed to celebrate with a group of new friends and my husband. Being a natural born networker, making friends out here hasn’t been a problem; however, I would be remiss to say I don’t miss my Denver besties.

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Hugging Goofy is my favorite part of Disney.

Now being only 2 hours away from Disneyland (and equally a Disney diehard), I got a Military-Park-Hopper pass and was able to go whenever a free weekend would lend itself to me. I also was close enough to LA that I was able to go to RuPaul’s Drag Con at the LA Convention Center. My best friend and I were finally in the same state, and we were able to see one another as often as we could. I got to go to a taping of ‘Men Tell All’ for “The Bachelorette” with my sister, and that was quite special too.

I set a lot of goals on my Peloton bike. It kept me grounded when times were tough and gave me a sense of control over my goals and outcomes. In the last year, I have completed over 850 rides on the bike and just finished celebrating in the San Diego showroom on Saturday for my 1,000th Ride. In September, I flew to New York City for the first time to ride in the studio with my favorite instructors. It was a life-changing trip.

Speaking of trips, my husband and I tried to travel more, despite both of our work schedules being tricky. Even if it was just a day trip to explore and take our cameras out, we made it a priority. In the last year we have made it to Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and have plans to visit San Francisco, and Dollywood (a dream of mine) soon. It might not seem like much, but being able to get away just for a weekend is so good for your spirit.

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First Christmas in OUR HOME!

In September, we bought a house. Yep – Scott and I are homeowners! We purchased an adorable forever-home (yep, forever – San Diego is where we hope to end up post-military) in East County. We couldn’t have done this without the tireless efforts of our dear friend and San Diego realtor, Ehab Ismail.

In San Diego, I got more involved in the things that drive my passions. I finally had space in my career to sit on a board of directors for a cause. I chose MARYAH (Metro Area Real Estate Professionals For Young Adult Housing), which helps fund the LGBT Center’s Sunburst Youth Housing Project. In San Diego, I have found more ways in which I can be an ally to my LGBTQIA+ friends and loved ones in my community.

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Joining the MARYAH board of directors has been so fulfilling.

This move was grueling for the most part. I moved away from family, and we had some very tough times last year. It was hard being apart from them, but I know that they will always be in my heart. My husband began to go out to sea, and as a military spouse, it was my first time having to worry about him. I gained a lot of strength and resilience in the last year, of which I am so grateful. Fortunately, I am 2 hours away from my in-laws. Having them in close proximity to me has been such a comfort. I truly feel so lucky to be close to something familiar.

While I have begun to grow some very beautiful roots in San Diego, I am remiss as to what is next for me. I find myself missing the beautiful networking groups I had in Denver, and the friendships I have had for years. While I continue to grow and change in my new normal, I am constantly reminded of where I came from and what I have to offer the world.

To those who I have met this past year, your imprint on my heart has meant the world to me. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Whether we worked together, volunteered together, or met through Bumble BFF, I honestly cannot thank you enough for being in my life.

My first year in California was a very beautiful journey of self-acceptance, forgiveness, and love. I hope that each year in my new decade is just as rewarding.

The universe is calling to me right now, and I feel that change is upon me. Let’s see what 2020 brings!

XO,

Bianca

I Drank the Koolaid: I Own A Peloton Bike, And It Is My Favorite Thing

In 2017 I took a serious look at my health and decided to start working out. This was no easy task, as I had treated my body horribly for most of my 20s, but I decided that I needed to get a handle on it before it went too far out of hand.

I knew that I wouldn’t work out unless I had to pay monthly for it. I knew this because I had lived in an apartment with a gym for the last 3 years, and barely used it. So, I signed up for Fit36, a 12-circuit 45-minute Cardio/Crossfit HIIT class in July of 2017, and went 3-5x a week religiously until just before my wedding in 2018. It helped me gain strength, and I was slowly but surely getting into shape.

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A few seconds before I almost ripped my shoulder in half.

A few weeks before Elvis asked us if we would spend forever calling one another a hunk of burning love for the rest of our lives in Las Vegas, there was a circuit with monkey bars as one of the stations. Upon dismount, I somehow hurt my shoulder, which made me fall out of love with this particular gym, because every new circuit continued to hurt my shoulder more. Sadly, I had to stop going in order to not injure my left shoulder permanently.

While it was a bummer to sit on the sidelines and fall slowly out of shape, I knew it was best for my health to find something that I could do with low impact on my ligaments. The only other workout I have ever truly enjoyed besides HIIT circuit training was spinning, which I had gotten to try out at SoulCycle in LA with my sister, and CycleBar in Denver. I also own a single-speed fixie bike, which I enjoyed riding in the summer with my husband.

I had seen ads for the Peloton bike, a stationary bike with a tablet attached, and thought it seemed rather gimmicky. I mean, how many times has someone bought exercise equipment and never used it? Surely, that would be me if I took the plunge. My parents had a Nordic Trak ski machine from the 80s, and they never used it, so this was my frame of reference for whether or not buying exercise equipment was smart.

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Hubs and I after purchasing the bike (March 2018).

My husband was actually the one that wanted to go into the showroom in Cherry Creek Mall to check it out. We had just gotten back our tax return, and he wanted to see if the Peloton was as cool in person as it was in all the ads we had been served. Reluctantly, I went with him, thinking that this was going to be a waste of time. Upon entering the showroom, we were completely blown away and I essentially ate all my self-doubt.

The bike was cooler than anything I had thought it might be. I was allowed to try it out for myself, and the staff let me demo a ride (even though I was wearing a skirt). I loved that you had countless live rides and could choose from thousands of On Demand options, including scenic rides (Pro-Tip: these suck! Don’t take them.).

Is the bike cheap? No, but you can pay it off in interest-free financing, and the streaming capabilities are unreal for your subscription. If you are military, the accessories (weights/shoes) come free. We were convinced it was the right decision, and we scheduled our delivery for the following week. My husband and I, who will not be choosing to have children, joke that this is about as expensive as having one but far more worth it.

I was still slightly skeptical when I got the bike, but I knew that with a purchase as large as this one, I couldn’t just let that bike sit there without using it. So, use it I did! From late March 2018 to it getting packed in our household goods shipment on January 31, 2019, I have ridden our Peloton Bike 155 times. I did some quick math, and I have 53 hours clocked on the bike, and countless miles traveled clipped in. Yes, the bike is awesome, but that’s not the only cool thing.

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After my ride in the Cherry Creek showroom (May 2018).

After ride 20 or so, their Home Rider Invasion (HRI) was happening at the ‘Mothership’ in Brooklyn, where riders across the country flock to seminars and live rides with their favorite instructors. If you couldn’t make it and were near a showroom, you were invited to come to ride in the store I swallowed my pride and rode live in a showroom next to a lady in her 50s with 2,500 rides under her belt. After that, I realized I had the courage to do anything I put my mind to. Old me would have never done that, but new me felt confident 20 rides in and thousands more to go.

What anyone who owns a Peloton (that uses it religiously) will tell you is that the best thing about this bike is the online community. It taps into the social media aspect with a Leaderboard to compete against other users, a follow option to ride with your friends, high fives for encouragement during the rides, and a fun rabbit hole of Facebook Subgroups for all interests. As an avid foodie and wine connoisseur, I really appreciated finding groups of people who use the bike the same way I do: to combat the pizza and tacos I enjoy eating.

The community will echo this from any soapbox you give them, but it really is how we talk about it. It’s not a facade. Peloton is, for many of us, one of the greatest things we have ever done for ourselves. I am moving to an entirely new city, and I already have friends thanks to Peloton. I also feel like I am motivated to push myself harder because I have a tribe of people behind me that want me to get to the next milestone.

When I hit my Century Ride in November 2018 (100 rides on the bike), I did the ride live and got two shoutouts from my favorite instructor Cody Rigsby! It pushed me harder, and I was able to get my first Personal Record in MONTHS! Not to mention, the hundreds of high fives from strangers and friends on the leaderboard. I am proud to wear my Century Club Shirt that Peloton sends you, and I consider it a badge of honor.

I am now at 155 rides, having taken my 150th milestone ride in January 2019, and rode that one as well live with friends and my favorite instructor. I got more shoutouts this time and also hit another personal record. You almost had to pry my hands off of the bike as they packed it away in our household goods shipment, and I will admit I did cry.

My ultimate goal is to work towards a large milestone ride for my 30th birthday and celebrate by participating in the studio for my 30th birthday this June. I am hopeful for that! I cannot wait to visit the mothership and meet the instructors that have totally changed my life.

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After my 150th ride (January 2019).

For those that don’t want to bite off a big purchase like this, you can also pay for the streaming app on your Apple or Android devices. There are more than just cycling workouts that can be done on any stationary bike! There are yoga, meditation, strength, stretching, cardio, and running classes on demand and live as well!

Due to not having the bike until we get settled in San Diego, I will be using the app to work out and ride on my own. Though not the same, it’s still a really great perk to having a Peloton.

If you are seriously considering this bike, I strongly suggest you go to a showroom and check it out for yourself. It is an excellent investment in your health and an inclusive community of like-minded individuals that care about your personal goals. Once you have the bike, catch me on the leaderboard (#gimmedatpizza).

One Peloton for life.

 

An Ode to 5,280 Feet

IMG_3297.jpegIt’s the end of an era for me…After nearly a decade-long period of living in Denver, Colorado, I am getting ready to move to San Diego, California with Scott (husband) at the end of January 2019.

Moving is feeling like a rough breakup. I’ve been riding out the gauntlet of emotions since we got our orders. If you’ve met me in person, I am the biggest champion of Denver. I sing it’s praises constantly, and know the full history of pretty much every historical building downtown. I have facts for days about my city, and it is breaking my heart to know that I am leaving.

I have lived in Colorado since I was 10 years old, and while I identify as midwestern at my core, I am from Colorado (so much so that I have requested that my ashes be tossed into the Casa Bonita waterfalls in my will). I have lived in Colorado more than half of my life, as I will turn 30 in June of 2019. I moved to Denver after graduating college in December of 2010, and with the exception of 8 months, have been blessed to call this place my permanent residence.

Denver is such an easy city to live in, and the secret is out about that (to the tune of 25,000 people or more moving here a month). No matter where I have traveled to in the world, I have always felt at home the second I feel the wheels hit the tarmac, or I see the Denver skyline in the distance while driving. When I was at my 10-year high school reunion, those that did not leave my high school town asked what it was like to live in such a big city, which I found quite baffling.

I think I said something along the lines of this:

“It’s like a little big town. You’re always 6-Degrees of Separation from someone. You see your exes more than you would like. Rockies games are obnoxious if it’s on your commute home, and if the Broncos lose a game the city is a little less friendly for a few days.”

Leaving Denver is basically saying goodbye to a lot of bullshit that doesn’t serve me. I get to say goodbye to mistakes I have made, ex-boyfriends I don’t want to see ever again, and friendships that were completely toxic. Your 20s are a dumpster fire, and I am definitely not ashamed to admit that I was a lot more selfish and out of touch with reality when I was younger.

That is not to say that I did not learn from my mistakes, as I feel like your 20s are nothing but a series of unfortunate events, but I definitely interpreted some valuable life lessons through my blunder years in Denver.

Though I am more than happy to be leaving the city married to the most wonderful human I have ever met, I also know that there are things I need to Elsa, and ‘let it go’ when I get to my new destination.

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Things I am leaving behind:

  • A graveyard of failed relationships (friendships and romantic partners).
  • A bunch of odd jobs and eclectic bosses.
  • A downtown Denver apartment with a view.
  • Friends I have had since I was 10 years old.
  • A somewhat thriving dance music scene that I participated in for years.
  • Pork Green Chili.
  • Casa Bonita.
  • The Thin Man.
  • My parents.
  • The Rocky Mountains.
  • Snow.

Though people keep telling me I will miss seasons (which I won’t, having been born in Minnesota), I am very excited to trade mountains for a beach. They both have their beautiful perks, but my favorite season is summer.

Things I am gaining with this move:

  • The chance to kick ass in a new city.
  • Warm weather year round.
  • Closer proximity to my in-laws and best friend.
  • Advancement in my husband and I’s careers.
  • A 2 bedroom apartment so that my friends can visit me.
  • Din Tai Fung.
  • Carne Asada Fries.
  • California Burritos.
  • No longer being landlocked.
  • An endless supply of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.
  • A proper Navy Exchange.
  • A season pass to Disneyland.

As I type this, I have just finished preparing for the movers to pack up our household goods shipment, and am sitting in 800 square feet that look like a bomb went off inside it. I have Marie Kondo’d the majority of our belongings and have made sure that only joy will be following us to our next apartment. This change will be good, but it will certainly won’t be easy.

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We are looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.

 

 

 

 

In Crust I Trust: Why Pizza Is My Brand

If you don’t know me in real life, you might be wondering why pizza seems to flow throughout my branding. I can understand that if you haven’t met me before. Because, if you haven’t I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to tell you all the reasons I love pizza, or even why I have a pepperoni slice tattooed on my left wrist. You might find it bizarre that my friends tag me in pizza memes, and I received a number of pizza-related items as wedding gifts. But to know me, you would understand that’s just me. From the outside perspective, it seems odd. I get that because it’s not necessarily traditional, and that’s the way I have lived my life: to the beat of my own drum, uphill against the wind.

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Living my best life at APizza Regionale in Syracuse, NY.

If you don’t know me in real life, it’s nice to ‘E-Meet’ you. My name is Bianca Wulwick, and I am a 28-year-old food obsessed digital marketing professional living in Denver, Colorado. I am inherently a foodie. I love the way cooking brings people together, and have a soft spot for the craft and passion that goes into every dish I eat. I feel like pizza is one of those things that can be done by anyone, but to be done well is a true art form.

You see, pizza and I have a torrid relationship. We’ve gone through years of not speaking to one another, only to pick back up where we left off. There’s been a lot of changes in my life throughout my 20s, and learning to love and nourish myself and my body has been one of them. Thus, pizza has been here to stay. To me, it symbolizes a love of life and the world around me.

Choosing to get it tattooed on my left wrist has been an ode to always live life to the fullest, and to believe in the integrity of my work. When it came to setting forth the branding of my company, it was a no-brainer. Pizza is me, and therefore I will entwine it into Bianca Wulwick Creative Services. There’s a lot of pizza out there, but no two pizzas are the same. If you cut corners on your pie game, you’re not going to attract the masses. Much like pizza, marketing can be done cutting corners too. Anyone can make a pizza, but if it’s not done well it doesn’t really hit the spot the same way…and that’s just like marketing.

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Squash Blossom Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, CA.

Picture the best pie you have ever had in your life. For me, it’s Nancy Silverton’s Squash Blossom Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles. It was a pizza so delicious it brought tears to my eyes. It felt like a total religious experience, and my tastebuds were in disbelief. I had seen the pie featured on a Buzzfeed video, so I made sure to stop in while I was visiting family in Los Angeles last year. It was perfection with a light airy crust and handcrafted toppings. It is the kind of experience that sticks with you for the rest of your life. In fact, I will be going to Pizzeria Mozza this Friday when I visit my family again in Los Angeles. I’m not kidding, it’s THAT good.

Now, picture the worst pizza pie you have ever had in your life. For me, that would be dorm pizza from Toby Kendall Dining Hall. Sure, it was ‘pizza’, but it didn’t feel like it. It was always a disappointment, and I regretted putting it on my plate. The crust was cardboard consistency with an over flowered texture, and the toppings never melted correctly. It was the kind of pizza to make you long for more. To put it plainly, I ordered a lot of BlackJack Pizza my freshman year.

Between those two examples, consider some good and bad marketing you’ve seen. There’s a lot of differing opinions out there on what might be best for your business, but we learn from both good and bad marketing. The good news is that these days, it’s easier than ever to market yourself well online.

Think of Digital Marketing Like a Pizza

I wouldn’t be on brand if I didn’t pull marketing lessons from pizza, so here goes. It’s simple: pizza is just like your strategy. When all of the components come together, you can create something special; however, if one component is lacking you could be doomed to failure. We should always be aiming to have marketing that is just as good as the best slice of Za you’ve ever had.

Your Marketing is Like a Pizza

The Crust: Vision

Think back to why you went into business in the first place. What was your business mission? What sets you apart from everyone else? Your vision for starting your business is the same one you need for your digital marketing strategy, but it might vary slightly. This is also the time and place where you start reigning in your target audience online and compare yourself to the competitors around you. Other things to consider include answering the question of what is or is not working in your current strategy. Much like the crust of the pizza, the lighter your vision the better. Having a clear and concise plan that is simple and easy to follow is much better than a heavy vision with no clear path to success.

Sauce: Execution

Once you have your vision in place, it’s time to get started. This is the fun part, and it is like the sauce of a pizza. There’s a lot you can do here, but every little piece adds a little more value to the crust. Executing your marketing plan means that you choose the channels you want to focus on, the content you have to write/produce, and the cadence in which this happens. A strong sauce has everything locked down, with working flavor profiles. In the execution stage of your digital marketing, you will have your website/email/analytics/PPC/SEO/Facebook pixel and more ready to go.

Cheese: Engagement

A pizza without cheese is just bread dipped in sauce. While delicious if you’re a carb glutton like me, it’s not as satisfying without ooey gooey cheese melted to perfection. It’s not pizza without the cheese. Much like a digital marketing strategy is not successful without engagement. Your execution should be focused on getting the end result you are setting forth from your vision. Whether it is more likes, more leads, or an increase in traffic, it’s not successful without traction. If you’re not seeing the results you want, it might be time to add toppings…or optimize, which I will highlight below.

Toppings: Optimization

They say you should never mess with a good thing, and for the most part, this is true. Some of the best pizzas are just crust, sauce and cheese; however, when marketing your business you must always be optimizing your recipe to get the best results. In this instance, I think of it like toppings. You can always switch up your toppings atop your perfect pizza recipe to maximize your flavor profiles. In marketing, it’s could be as simple as changing the time you post, the frequency, cadence or what keywords you are optimizing for.

If you’re still reading this, and you still need help for your business, let’s chat. Click here to drop me a line.

My Dumbest Friend: Murphy

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On our way to San Diego 2019 (There was no Colorado exit sign on our route).

It’s January 2014: I had just gone through a breakup where the guy and I admittedly moved far too fast, and I should have known better. You see, until I was 24 years old I didn’t really know how to adult. After college, I played house for 2-years with a guy that was not right for me. After that, I was living out of a suitcase doing promotional marketing across the USA for snack foods and Coca-Cola, using my parent’s home as a virtual crash pad. Then I met someone cool and decided to put all my chips in that perhaps this relationship would be the one, only to have it end 5 months later.

On my way back to his apartment after work, he had already deleted our relationship on Facebook and untagged himself in every photo we had together. I only worked one mile from his apartment, so that was some stealth ninja shit. On top of this, he had written me a letter and a personal IOU check for a dresser we had bought at a mid-modern furniture shop together a few weeks earlier, tearfully he handed over the letter and watched me read it as my world crumbled beneath my feet. He sat silently while I collected my things and I drove 45-minutes away to my parent’s house, not sure what to do. I felt devastated at the time, but it was honestly the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

What goes from here is a journey of independence that I could not thank this guy enough for, even though it sucked eggs at the time. I got my own studio apartment in West City Park and began a new chapter of my life. At the time I was making far too little money to take care of myself, but I felt like a real adult, even if my parents had to help me.

At this point, I was 24. I had a job at a digital marketing agency, an apartment, and searing heartbreak from being dumped. After little to no thought involved, I decided that the cure for a broken heart was to fulfill my life’s fantasy and adopt a dog. I had always wanted a dog of my own. As a kid, I had memorized the AKC book my parents had and could pinpoint dog breeds like a superpower.

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Our family’s first dog, Rio.

My sister and I had wanted a dog for years, and finally, when I was in middle school our prayers were answered. Our parents got our family a purebred Portuguese Water Dog named Rio. Rio was my dad’s shining star, and my mom’s companion while my sister and I were away at college; however, that dog was 100% my parent’s dog. When he suddenly passed away when I was a junior in college, my parents were devastated beyond measure and decided they would not be getting our family another dog anytime soon.

My sister ended up getting the cutest Boston terrier named Major, but she was in another state. There was no way I could get my puppy fix while the only dog was miles away. So, I scoured websites and adoption agencies for years daydreaming about getting a dog. When the timing was right, I decided it was time to pull the trigger.

I scoured Denver Dumb Friends League’s website day after day, and finally saw the dog I wanted a few weeks later. He had been at the shelter for almost a week, was 5 years old, and had one floppy ear. He looked desperate to get out of the shelter, but I would later come to find out that it was only snacks he was interested in. I left work early that day and drove straight to DDFL.

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His shelter profile on DDFL.org

Instead of walking through the kennels I went straight to the front desk and asked to see Billy (that was his shelter name – undoubtedly the dumbest name for a dog). A couple right behind me made a comment about how that was the dog they wanted to see as well, and I thought to myself, ‘not if I have anything to do with it…’. The front desk receptionist asked me a series of questions regarding my lifestyle and home life, saying that the previous owner cited children as a reason he was relinquished. I didn’t have children or cats, so they let me see him.

I waited nervously in the holding room wondering if I was making a huge mistake. The shelter volunteer brought Billy into the room, and he immediately sat in the corner far away from me. He stared at me not sure what to think. The volunteer handed me a bag of treats and said, “You’re probably going to need these!” With that, she left the room, leaving this dog and me together.

I opened the treat bag, and his ears perked up. He was still sitting as far away from me as possible, but I held out my hand with the treat on it. He slowly approached me, snagged the treat and retreated back to the corner like Gollum. After a few more treats, he got more ballsy and sat in the middle of the room. Finally, after nearly an entire bag of treats, he was sitting next to me.

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A photo of Murphy and I in September of 2014.

I still couldn’t tell if he liked me, but I figured he was scared. Being put in a shelter at 5 years old is probably terrifying, and I was scared too! This was a huge decision, and I wasn’t sure if it was the right one. The volunteer came back into the room and asked what I thought. I told her I wasn’t sure, and she promptly handed me another treat bag. It was as if she knew that this dog needed to go home with me, and she was hoping another bag of treats would convince us that we were a good match.

Bag of treats number two is when Billy’s personality began to shine. Every treat was a new trick. He sat politely, offered his paw to shake, he laid down, stood up on his hind legs, and gave me kisses. That’s when I knew I couldn’t leave him behind, and the couple behind me that wanted to see him seemed dreadful. So, without walking him, and without knowing anything really about him, I decided to adopt him.

The volunteer came back to help fill out our paperwork. While we were filling out the information, another volunteer came to take Billy to get a microchip. As they were taking him to the appointment room, he put his paw on the door and cried, giving me a look that I will never forget. It was a look as if to say, “don’t leave me!” My heart broke seeing that, which only intensified my reasoning for adopting him.

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Murphy and I in 2015.

After we left the shelter, I drove to the nearest Petco. While at Petco, I was trying to rack my brain on what to name him. I had some ideas, but they were all about as bad as Billy in terms of names. I started calling out names to him to see if he responded to any of them, and when I settled on Murphy, his ears perked up. With that, I got his collar engraved with my contact information, and we headed home to my studio apartment.

I wish I could end the story here and say that adopting him was great, and it was all roses and rainbows; however, the next few years of my life became a complex web of fear that all rescue owners probably face. You never really know what happened to your pet before you adopt them, and you’re going to spend the rest of their life trying to undo the abuse and neglect that came before them.

In Murphy’s case, his intake sheet said that he liked other dogs and couldn’t be in a home with cats or kids. For me, that ticked all the boxes. I took the shelter’s word that he was dog-friendly. Fortunately, I learned my lesson on that very quickly.

Murphy was not dog-friendly, and I found that out within a day. What started out seemingly innocent began to really take shape a few weeks after adopting him. He would sneer at other dogs, and lunge when I was walking him. He even went so far as to bite a neighbor’s dog in the face, which scared me indefinitely. But it wasn’t just the dog-friendliness that was an issue because Murphy also loved to bark while I was at work.

I was able to reprimand this by a low-grade shock caller, which I felt horrible using. Murphy was quick to adapt and stopped barking relentlessly when I left in the mornings. The aggressiveness was a different story. I enrolled him in puppy classes at Petsmart, which he passed with flying colors. After that, his behavior improved.

While he was far more obedient, it intensified the bond between him and I and he felt he needed to protect me still from everything. Could you blame him? I was a single female living in a first-floor studio apartment. From my dog’s perspective, I was a weakling. Having a slightly aggressive dog proved problematic in dating, and it began to control my life. Murphy saw me go through four different soul-crushingly bad relationships before meeting my husband and didn’t warm up to any of them.

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Murphy and I in 2014

About a year after adopting him, I enrolled Murphy in Pavlov Dog Training courses because I wanted a better way to cope with his leash reactiveness. After 6 weeks of training, the only answer was to keep him away from other dogs and to always have a bag of treats on hand. Accepting that we would never be able to have a healthy relationship with other puppers, I made peace with that and decided to give Murphy the best life I possibly could.

It’s extremely hard to date in Denver when your dog is aggressive towards other dogs because every person seems to have one. Not to mention, men do not take kindly to an initial refusal to meet simply because they have a dog. In my mind, if they had a dog and we hit it off I was going to have to make a heartbreaking decision. Murphy is a special snowflake, but in a choice between my dog and a man I made a commitment.

I was always worried that my dog would never warm up to another person because so far that had been the case in dating. That all changed when I met my husband. It wasn’t a fast transition and it took a few months of my dog warming up; however, the wait was worth it. The difference with Scott and Murphy in comparison to any other relationship was that he was in it for the long haul. Scott genuinely liked dogs and invested in their relationship. By the time we had moved in together, Murphy was used to him. And while moving downtown was an adjustment for an older dog, it was an easier transition when I had a partner that understood his quirks.

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Scott and Murphy, 2017

It did not come without hiccups. On the first night, Murphy stayed over at his apartment, he inhaled an accidental floor jalapeno while I was making guacamole. That resulted in catastrophic diarrhea that Murphy was polite enough to spare the rugs and furniture with. I was mortified to clean up the mess on the floor and baseboards and thought for sure that Murphy and I would never be welcomed to stay over again. As luck would have it, Scott thought this was hilarious. We refer to this incident as Guacamole Gate, and he still teases me about it.

Overall, adopting Murphy was a dumb mistake but a rewarding one. We are very happy to have him in our lives, knowing very much that we have given him the best life he could possibly have. Four years ago today, his original owner decided to give up on him and drop him off at DDFL. Their misfortune became my greatest achievement. Murphy turns 9 today, as that was the day he was relinquished to the shelter. He will live out his life knowing he was loved and cared for, with all of the snacks.

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DDFL Rescue

If you are thinking of adopting a shelter dog, I highly suggest it; however, you should be prepared for the implications of previous neglect or abuse and be in it for the long haul to take care of the repercussions. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and that is slightly true in some cases; however, all behavioral issues can find a workaround.

2020 Update: Murphy crossed the rainbow bridge on May 9, 2020. We miss him very much.

Online Dating is Mostly Trash, Until it Isn’t

A product of online dating, I am very proud of my relationship’s roots, and love to tell our story. I understand this article could be rather vomit-inducing for those who are down on their luck in the love department. I encourage you to continue your adventure. Technology is quite amazing and is helping people connect in so many ways. 

The year was 2013. It might not seem that long ago, but for me, this seems like such a long look back into my 20s. I was 23 and had just gone through one of the most painful breakups of my life (he kept the dog). This breakup caused me to have to uproot my life in Denver, Colorado and move 45 minutes north to live with my parents while I got back on my feet.
giphyA single girlfriend of mine told me about this new app called Tinder that allowed you to match with guys in your area and suggested I try it out as an attempt to mend my heart. Considering I was living in my hometown with my parents, it sounded like a better idea than sitting at home heartbroken. In downloading the app, I was instantly connected to the small dating pool in my hometown in 2013.  Unfortunately, the pool was so small that one of my matches ended up knowing my sister who was 4 years older than me. The Tinder app was short-lived, and I tabled using it until the beginning of 2014 when I was back in Denver living on my own.

Cut to countless breakups later, and Tinder had become the new normal for me. As soon as something insignificant would end, I like many of my peers, would download the app and continue to search for my soulmate. Ultimately I would lose hope that I would ever find anything of substance, but there was still a glimmer of feeling like I deserved a fairytale.

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What it’s like to date online.

To achieve that fairytale ending, I didn’t just use Tinder anymore. No, technology had evolved and so had I! I had it all: Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder, and OKCupid. The cross-pollination was an attempt to cast a wide net that JUST MAYBE would catch the person I was supposed to be with. Unfortunately, instead of finding the right person it just showed the same people over and over again that I would constantly match with on every single app, which always felt like a cold lead in a sea of possibilities.

So, that’s why when I found him, it almost didn’t happen. I’ve seen everything when it comes to online dating, so like a hardened war veteran I was abrasive and cold by the end of 2016. It was to the point that getting a match wasn’t even thrilling, and I was drowning in a sea of meaningless bullshit, overwhelmed by every single advance from a potential suitor. Even Bumble, where I was meant to initiate with my matches felt like a chore, and I let countless interactions slip away into a void of not giving a shit. I was ready to delete every single app and swear until I was blue in the face that I would never use them again.

So, that’s why when we matched, I almost blew it. We exchanged a few messages, and I gave him my phone number. He mentioned he had just moved to Denver, which undeservingly threw up my first red flag. He was ecstatic to have signed a lease downtown, which jolted my second red flag. Having lived in Denver for 7 years, I resented going downtown and hated playing tour guide for new transplants. Finally, he invited me to meet him at the Viewhouse — The death wish of all red flags for me. It is without a doubt one of my least favorite establishments in Denver, and unfairly I assumed he had poor taste. I declined to meet him. We stopped texting.  After this brush-off of unfairness, we both dated other people. Those meaningless relationships ended after about a week, and we both fired up our dating apps once again.

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Never understood why OKCupid turned out to be a deep sexual deviance admission portal.

I was morbidly curious after my most recent foil in dating, but I was also ready to be done with the song and dance of putting myself out there. I logged into my OKCupid account purely to delete my profile, but I noticed I had some messages. Most of the time I received messages on OKCupid it wasn’t anything of merit. 90% of my messages came from polyamorous men, or other sexual fetishes it had never occurred to me someone would be interested in, yet somehow this was the kind of attention being a woman on OKCupid attracted. That being said, I still read almost all of my messages out of morbid curiosity, even if they made me lose faith in humanity and the prospect of love.

So, as I was logging in to close one more avenue of dating failure I noticed my inbox had a few messages in it. What was the harm in reading them? The least that would happen was that I would roll my eyes. I am glad I decided to read my messages one last time, because among a majority of the kind of messages I am used to seeing was the most genuine message I had ever received. A man had read the entirety of my profile and thoughtfully responded to each individual section. He had taken the time to read my entire profile which was set up like a booby-trapped labyrinth to deter potential suitors to message me. I wanted to see who this person was, so I clicked his profile. I recognized the first image as the guy I had matched with on Tinder and declined to meet at the Viewhouse. I responded immediately saying, “You have my phone number.”

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The newest photo I had set to my profile picture on OKCupid.

To his credit, I had different pictures on my profile than when we previously had matched. He didn’t even realize I was the same person who declined to meet him at the Viewhouse. I had just been to Chicago and did you really even go anywhere if you can’t get 4-5 new profile pictures from it? His message rekindled our text message thread, which after leaving a previous job had deleted all of my most recent contacts, so I was not quite sure who anyone was when they texted me anymore. Most of my online dating prospects that got my phone number were saved in a system of emoji that transcribed them into their respective match platform such as Name – 🔥 for Tinder, or Name – 🐝 Bumble, but with my contacts coming undone I had no idea who was contacting me. Besides, most of the phone numbers I got never led to a date and I wouldn’t be able to figure out the backstory behind who people were. My phone became a purgatory where the numbers in it were mostly ghosts, and no one had a pulse.

A firm believer in fate, I felt like it was pretty awesome that we were able to reconnect; however, I was skeptical about if it would turn into anything. The typical pattern for most is that we exchange numbers and then never meet up, but Scott wasn’t willing to let this go a second time. When I tried to decline to go on our first date because I was in between jobs, and also had a bought of laryngitis, he wouldn’t hear of it. A few hours later, he was there to pick me up for a date that lasted for 72 hours. I felt magic at every hour, but it wasn’t until our time together was coming to an end that I realized nothing had ever felt this way for me before.

Fortunately, we were on the same page, and both ready to take the leap of faith into what each one of us had been looking for our entire lives.

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Probably the happiest day of my life.

A month after our first date, I moved downtown into his apartment with my dog Murphy. A month after that, I introduced him to my parents (something that I never do). A month after that, I met his family in Southern California (something he never does). In June, I picked out my engagement ring without realizing it. In September, he asked my dad for permission, and later on, asked me to spend forever with him. On the anniversary of our first date, we will be celebrating our union in Las Vegas, with Elvis performing my dream ceremony in a Pink Cadillac. At no point of this have I ever felt any regret or doubt, and neither has he.

So many times in my life I have had to try and convince myself that the person I was with was right for me. That being deeply unhappy and having to change aspects of who I was to appease another individual was normal. It wasn’t until I met Scott that I realized that the value of finding someone who values who you are as an individual but also empowers you to be the best version of yourself is so rare and beautiful. I have been looking my whole life for this kind of love story and will be the first to admit I never thought it would happen to me. This time around, it felt final.

I just knew.

People often ask me what our match percentage on OKCupid was when they hear our story, and it was 65%. Proof that an algorithm cannot tell you who you are meant to be with.

When you know, you know. You just do. There’s no question. It’s absolutely what everyone told me it would be. I leaned in and embraced my good fortune. Another wives tale that I was told constantly is that love finds you when you stop looking, or when you least expect it. I can concur that those are also true points of advice.

If I could give anyone struggling with online dating any advice, it would be to keep trying, go into every relationship expecting nothing, and keep your heart open.

And to think, it almost didn’t happen because he invited me to the Viewhouse.