Why Traveling Alone Was The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

Traveling alone as a woman sounds scary. I recently took my second solo trip. This time, instead of internationally traveling alone, I took a domestic trip to the Pacific Northwest to Seattle. I ate by myself. I went to the club by myself. I walked 29 miles uphill and down by myself.

And you know what, traveling alone was the best experience I’ve ever had. Partially because Seattle was one of the best places to travel alone and partially because it helped me discover a lot about myself.

1. You Find Our What Makes You Sad, Happy and Awkward

When you are always around the same group of people and the same environment, you don’t always take a moment to realize what makes you really happy or sad.

When I first got to Seattle, I was happy at the airport – taking in the advertising of “best coffee” and seeing the faux fur embellishments on women’s jackets.

But then when I started exploring on my own, I noticed how everything surprised me. The anthropological side of me came out as I took in the scent of the forest, the drunk and high people climbing up the streets, the cream cheese that they put on their hot dogs and the wild beasts getting into a fight on the street.

While I liked exploring a new city, I realized that I felt uncomfortable and awkward. I acted like I didn’t belong. Like I was someone time traveling. So, after going into various bars and leaving, I went to a waffle bar at 11:30 pm and sat and read my book. I felt like myself again.

I also learned that I liked getting up early and going on an adventure all day and coming home tired at night. I stopped and found what gave me joy like getting my nails done, being on a ferry, or climbing up a hill and sitting in the forest overlooking the city.

2. You Take The Time To Enjoy The Moment

When you are traveling, especially for two days, you want to experience everything. So, you rush. But on this solo trip, I did everything I wanted to do and I stopped and enjoyed the moment.

I was walking to Oriental Park because I love modern art. But then, I saw the sunshine coming thru and followed it to a gorgeous park. And it was there that i discovered one of the most amazing views of Seattle. I didn’t realize how much feeling the sun on my skin would make me so happy.

3. You Discover What You Like To Eat

Whenever you travel, you have the opportunity to try new foods. Though I was in Seattle and I couldn’t wait to have a good cup of coffee, I discovered that I don’t like macchiatos, I like hot apple cider. But, I’ve always been one to be indecisive about coffee. 

And then I wanted sea food. My friend had traveled to Seattle and she mentioned the amazing seafood. So, I went and found a good restaurant on an island because there were no ferries to West Seattle. So, my seafood hunt ended when I sat and ate crab risotto. While it was fancy and well-prepared, I didn’t really like crab risotto.

My favorite meal of the entire trip was hot apple cider and butternut squash and kale quiche in a Seattle coffee shop.

4. You Become Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

One of the best parts about traveling alone is that you become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It took a lot for me to sit at a restaurant and eat. I found it boring. I felt like I had to be super interested in a book or my phone.  And then I realized that it was okay to eat alone. Mostly I found that sitting all by myself in a restaurant is not fun and it’s not something I like to do. I’m okay with drinking alone, but for the most part, I like sharing my life with others – which is why I love dinner parties so much.

But it was other things. Like I love taking photographs, but I’m always embarrassed that I take so many and that they are out of focus. It took an entire day, but the next day, I felt not only comfortable traveling alone, but comfortable with myself. I didn’t feel judged for playing in the water fountain or helping a man hang Christmas lights, or listening to rap music as I contoured and highlighted my face. 

Not only did I find out what I love doing but I actually enjoyed doing it because I stopped giving people power over me to judge me. Yes, I’m alone. Yes, I’m walking. Yes, I’m excited about this cup of coffee. And for the first time, I didn’t hide my emotion or become self-conscious. I just let myself live and enjoy.

5. You Do What You’ve Always Wanted

When you are in a new city by yourself, you get to be impulsive. You get to stop and take the tour and learn some history about the city. You get to stop for a cup of coffee or a danish. You get to stop at the book store and explore all of those books you never thought you would enjoy.

When you are traveling alone, it’s okay if you wake up at 6 am to read The New York Times. It’s okay to go home when you’re tired even if it’s 9 pm.

6. You Feel Empowered and Inspired

But most importantly, you realize that your life is inspiring and amazing. When I’m with other people, I always think they are doing things better than me and I’m doing everything wrong. I know it’s crazy to walk everywhere, but that’s what I felt like doing.

I haven’t been inspired to write in a long time, and this trip helped me realize that it’s okay to have passions and pursue them even though you may not be perfect or may not know how things might turn out. So, I’ve started writing again and being published again. 

So, it’s not that I couldn’t do any of these things in Chicago, where I live. Because I live alone and go to events alone all of the time, but it’s that when I was traveling alone, I was put in a new environment, that helped me discover different aspects about myself.

That’s what traveling does – it helps you find your place. It helps you find out who you are and do it on purpose. Of course travel with friends – I love traveling with friends, but I’m really glad that I took this trip to Seattle alone.

I do think it’s important to take some time for yourself to find out things about yourself when you travel alone.

Don’t forget these traveling tips for your first or next solo adventure.


What do you do when you’ve turned into Carrie Bradshaw?

“Are you a player?” he asked me as we walked down the street.

“No, I just crush a lot,” I smiled.

I went home alone that night and I called my friend. “I only date players,” I said.

“You’re the biggest player I know,” she told me with no hesitation.

No. No, no, no, no. I can’t be a player.

The word “player” has such a negative connotation. It means he’s leading you on — he’s acting like he’s more interested in you than he really is.

A player is also someone who’s dating you and multiple other people at the same time. But because the relationship isn’t “real,” or defined, you can’t consider it cheating.

A player is cheating the system; they’re playing the game.

When I first started using Tinder, I loved how guys were always ready for a Tuesday night date.

You could swipe right in one second and your date would be waiting for you at a local bar just a couple hours later.

It was easy and simple, and it made the whole question of compatibility easy to distinguish. You actually met the person right away.

Going on a Tinder/Bumble/DM date was like eating a taco on taco Tuesday. It was convenient, it was fun and it was socially acceptable.

But after a while, you take a break from tacos and you come back and sit and wait and eventually think about getting more tacos. But no one asks you to go get tacos when you want them to.

When you start to date people, they could be seeing someone else. You know it and I know it, this isn’t your first taco.

There’s no rule book for when it’s inappropriate or hurtful to go on dates with someone else throughout the dating process.

Read the full article on Elite Daily.


Friendsgiving with Chicago Bloggers

Ahhh Thanksgiving. It is by far my favorite holiday because I love Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole – and then of course apple pie.

Beyond the food, I love that there’s a new rush in the air to think about what we’re thankful for and then also what we want to give to others for Christmas and then goals we want to set for ourselves for the next year. Thanksgiving begins the season of joy and reflection. 

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is Friendsgiving. It allows us to appreciate our friends and also learn how to, at the very least make a side dish. 

This year, I had Thanksgiving at the Dollhouse with two other Chicago bloggers from Once Upon a Dollhouse and their friends and family.

We had the whole meal catered by amazing restaurants like Maggiano’s – yes I put spaghetti and meatballs on my Thanksgiving plate. 

Besides learning that red wine or champagne are really the only appropriate beverages to complement Thanksgiving dinner, it was fun to meet other people’s best friends and talk about new beauty trends like tattooing your eyebrows, or swapping travel adventures to Thailand and Paris.

From Windy City Cosmo, I hope you and your friends and family have a beautiful Thanksgiving. I’m in Los Angeles for the second annual tradition. How do you celebrate the holiday?


How it feels to experience a sunny day in Seattle

When you wake up and go outside and it’s sunny in Seattle – you can’t help but smile. You meander through the streets and see the sunlight peaking out and you immediately walk towards the warmth. 

I recently took my first trip to the Pacific Northwest and after one day of the rain and cold, I couldn’t rationalize my move from Florida to Chicago. How did Chicago’s weather not affect me so much?

Seattle was so perfect, but I couldn’t get past the weather. It was like Chinese torture because it would rain. Stop. Rain again. Stop. Rain some more. And then freeze. 

Seattle is not a city of umbrellas, just baseball caps and jackets.

Seattle is gorgeous in its own right. It has so many coffee shops because without them everyone would be curled up in bed all day with a book. 

The locals don’t fight the weather. They have a positive mindset and smile and take your order or give you directions. But they have a sense of humor. They aren’t just nice, they are sarcastic and real. 

So as I took in the sunshine, I wanted to share with you how it feels to experience a sunny day in Seattle.

I am currently at the bay, experiencing the abstract art at Olympic Sculpture Park. I found a break in the path that led to a small rocky beachside. I like sitting on the rocks watching sea otters flip through the waves. I like hearing the waves so close to me as I sit on a big uncomfortable rock.

I like seeing the sun through the clouds and then feeeling it’s brightness on my eyes and it’s warmth on my legs as I recover from the chills of the storm – or as most would see it – an average day in Seattle.

I like looking out and seeing big white, puffy clouds and rich green grass. I like smelling firewood. I like getting excited about having coffee in the morning and stumbling upon all those places I’ve read about.

I like feeling the excitement and hearing the chants after a Seahawks game and seeing everyone wearing a shirt and an old man talking about his season passes

I did like taking a ferry to an island and talking to the girl with purple hair who gave me crab risotto on a gloomy day. 

I like books stores. I like activism. 

I like the intellectual conversation. I like the causal, but cool style.

But I like that when it’s sunny in Seattle, I can climb up the streets and down them.

I can walk up the residential streets of Queen Ann to Kerry Park and look over at a sunny Seattle.

I like continuing my journey to the Space Needle and though, not impressive, the surrounding pop art museum and science museum and the Chihuly gardens and the fountain were all worth the visit on a sunny day in Seattle.

I like sitting in the living room at 6 am to read the New York Times and look out and over to see the sun rise. I like staying in a mansion on top of a hill where I can walk to one of the most picturesque parks – Volunteer Park, where you can climb up a tower to see the sunrise and then climb down and sit on a sculpture and lookout around the surrounding forest and blocked off water.

I like art. I like the man painting a mural on a Monday morning. And most importantly I like taking a moment to be happy to see the sun. To smile and go to the bridge and lookout over a new city.

I really do like to explore. And yes I like to relax at night or on a beach and do absolutely nothing. But I really liked walking 29 miles in 48 hours to see the man painting a sculpture or the other man eating a Washington apple or the men throwing salmon at Pike Place Market.


The Founder of OkCupid Talks Soulmates

Love. It’s in an algorithm. At least according to Sam Yagan, a mathematician who founded OkCupid.

Yagan and I met in the back room. As a serial entrepreneur, who is now investing his resources in Chicago, he gave an hour talk about entrepreneurship to a group of young professionals from Ivy, the social university. I said I appreciated the talk, but I was hoping to speak to him more about love and relationships.

He was agreeable, and I started talking with Yagan about the matters of the heart and how science can prove compatibility.

“Our match percentage is uncannily good,” Yagan said about OkCupid, a dating website which was started by four math majors. It works so that the more questions you answer (which should be about 100), the better your match percentage will lead you to someone compatible.

These dating questions range from asking about religion to asking about your level of cleanliness.

Dating Apps: How to Compete in the Game of Love

“I think each dating product has its own strengths,” Yagan said. He noted that dating apps like Tinder use your social network and attractiveness to find your companion. Later on, Yagan moved on to be the CEO of Match.com, when OkCupid was acquired by Match.com.

Overall, his experience with founding startups has taught him that if a competitor is really good at one aspect of the business, then you cannot compete in the same industry at that level.

“You have to change the rules of the game. You can’t outmatch match.com. Match spends a lot of money on tv advertising,” Yagan divulged, “What OkCupid did was that we said we were going to be free. We started a blog that exposed vulnerabilities of our business. We became the reference brand of online dating because we had this data to share that Match.com didn’t.”

Average Looking and Dating:

During Yagan’s lecture, he emphasized the importance of starting a startup because you are trying to solve a problem.

So, it was only fair to ask him what problem he was solving by founding the dating site, OkCupid, “We believed we could predict compatibility using math.”

I liked that answer. We all have our lists of criteria that we want in our soulmate. And here, Yagan and his team were trying to use numbers instead of physical attractiveness and a meet cutes.

“Most people are average looking. That’s the definition of average,” Yagan went on about dating profiles, “With the match percentage, it gives you a reason to give someone a second chance or a first chance.”

After his dip in the dating apps and website business, Yagan has moved on which he considers similar to the experience of “when your kid goes to college, you know your kids want to leave the house. You don’t want your 26-year-old to live with you.”

With all of this data on love and relationships from his dating website, Yagan said that OkCupid broke barriers like height differences and racial barriers.

We concluded with that one question we have when we are dating – and that is – is there just one person out there for us – do we only have one soulmate?

Yagan smiled and said, “No.”