Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Life Chats: My 2nd Solo Trip

I'm not even sure how to start this post because I am just filled with so many mixed emotions.  I honestly never imagined that I would ever travel by myself and now I have gone solo to 3 different countries.  I feel so empowered and honestly, pretty damn proud of myself.  It wasn't always easy but I got through it. I did it for me and I did it on my own.  That is one of the best and most indescribable feelings that I have ever had.  One of the main reasons why I love solo travel so much is because I feel so free.  I feel like I am a different version of myself then who I am when I'm back home and I love that version.  I wish I would see it more often and I think the main thing I struggle with is figuring out why that version only comes out when I travel alone.  I think that we get so caught up and consumed with our daily lives and the people around us, but when you venture out into the unknown on your own, that solitude changes you.  It changes your perspective and your mentality.  It helps you come to terms with so many different things about yourself that you've probably tried your hardest to bury deep inside.  It forces you to tap into a strength that you never even knew you had and then suddenly you realize all that you are capable of.  It is so easy to say, "I can't," and as you are wandering about by yourself those words suddenly turn into, "I can."  It's a powerful thing.  I can't say that it's made me fearless because of course I had and still have my moments of being afraid.  The difference though is that I've learned to push past those fears and doubts.  Fear is crippling and it traps you inside of your comfort zone.  The only one that can take you out of it is yourself.  

There's this quote that I have loved for so many years and I think that it applies to my life. 
 "You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you've been hurt enough that you have to." I can honestly say that I have changed so much as a person for both of these reasons.  I've been hurt a lot in my life, but my greatest heartbreak was losing my father and as you all know that changed me in many ways.  I was hurting so much and I was so lost for so long.  I knew that something had to be different.  The more travel I do, the more I learn about myself and this also helps me grow.  It gives me a better understanding of the things that I need to work on and change within myself. I understand now why it's so addicting for people and why many choose to live this "free spirited" life.  When I came back home I didn't even know what to do with myself. I felt so weird and can't even put it into words.  I was only gone for 10 days, so I can't even imagine what I will feel like when I am away for much longer.  My initial thought was, "Ok, where to next?" Some might think this mentality means you are trying to run from something, but I personally think that I am running towards something.  I just don't know what that is.  Maybe it's this whole other version of myself that I have only slightly tapped into or maybe it's the chance to live differently.  I don't know, but I would like to find out.  I believe that life is one big quest and we are all searching for something; searching for love, searching for light, searching for answers, searching for ourselves

Before I left for London & Paris, I was starting to struggle with a lot of things internally again. I kept trying to fight it, but it constantly left me feeling defeated.  I felt genuinely happy while I was away and freed from all of the things that had been bringing me down before.  Now that I am back home all of those things seem so insignificant to me now.  They aren't even a factor anymore.  I have to be completely honest and say that one of the things I felt so discouraged about was blogging.  I sometimes feel like I work so hard to continue to build and share content, yet it's not always received in the ways that I hope.  Engagement is way down and my growth has been at a stand still all year.  I was starting to feel like maybe I am not good enough and that my work doesn't matter.  But it does matter and I am good enough.  I know this.  I just think that it's so easy to get discouraged and be hard on ourselves.  One negative thought can spiral into many and then before you know it you are left feeling insignificant.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  We are our own worst enemy.  During my travels I really came to terms with this.  I was able to ask myself questions that I was too afraid to ask before.  I had to remind myself of all the reasons why I started in the first place and that before anything, I do this for me

Both places gave me different experiences and I think that Paris challenged me more.  I had many emotional moments while I was there.  Nothing bad happened, but there were a few times in the beginning of my stay where I felt a little defeated.  I had a hard time understanding the language at first and navigating my way around.  It's such a big city and being alone in it just made me feel so small.  But the more I pushed myself, the more I embraced these challenges and by the 3rd day I felt like a pro in Paris.  One of the most emotional moments was when I went to Champ de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night.  There I am sitting down on the grass staring up at this magical thing in front of me that I always dreamed of seeing in person.  I look around me and all I see are couples hugging and kissing.  For a few seconds, I felt lonely and wondered if I would ever find that. It made me sad and I started asking myself why I kept choosing to be alone.  What am I afraid of?  And then all of a sudden that sadness transformed into an incredibly empowering feeling.  I thought to myself, "Look at where you are right now.  Look at what you've been able to accomplish on your own."  I couldn't hold back the tears.  All of these years I've worked so hard on self love and making myself happy that I think I built up walls because of it. But I now know that when it comes time to finding love, I will truly be able to love because I love myself first. Whether I get married and have a family of my own or live a single life forever, I am officially OK with both outcomes.  

I was blown away by all of the messages that I received while I was away, specifically from everyone on snapchat.  You guys have no idea how much your words mean to me.  I loved sharing every moment with you and being able to connect in such a personal way.  It made me think so much about what I am doing in my life and what the next step should be in my career.  I feel that both travel and Life Chats is definitely what I am supposed to be doing and I think that this can really lead to finally writing my book.  I've brought so many dreams to life except for this one and I just have to do it.  All of these experiences are helping me grow and shaping me more into the woman that I want to be.  So many of you told me that my solo adventures have inspired you, that I have inspired you.  That is the best compliment I could ever receive.  This blog isn't just about fashion anymore.  It's not just about the outfits and the exterior.  I have officially let all of you in on me and who I am. I've shown you my layers.  I've exposed my insecurities.  If both my struggles and my triumphs can inspire someone to go out and truly live their life and make dreams come true, then I know that I am doing something right. I don't ever want to get off this path and I hope that you will continue to walk down it with me. 

I will leave you with this piece of advice.  If there is something that you want to do, go out and do it.  If you want to travel solo, then make it happen.  There will always be uncertainty, but I guarantee that the experience will be life changing for you and it will help you evolve. You can only allow fear to hold you back for so long.  At some point you need to fight through it because your dreams are waiting for you on the other end.  It wasn't until I hit my 30s that I really learned how to live and not just exist.  I am fully aware that anything can happen at any time so all I can do is live for today. These are the moments that matter the most, so take full advantage while you still have them.  Thank you for allowing me to continue to share these personal moments with all of you.  I look forward to whatever comes next.  Much love to all of you. <3 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hotel de la Trémoille

Bonjour! I'm back from my Europe adventure and have SO much to share with you guys!  This week is going to be filled with travel posts from a Life Chats describing the whole experience to a London Diary & Paris Diary recapping everything.  I have so many photos to go through and truthfully need to get all of my thoughts together because this whole solo journey was another life changing one. My emotions have been all over the place since I got back.  I've been catching up on sleep all weekend as I've been exhausted and still a bit jet lagged.  My mom is also on vacation right now so I probably won't have any new content for the blog until next week.  Hope you enjoy this "travel week" though!

  I decided to kick things off with my stay at Hotel de la Trémoille, a boutique hotel in Paris! I mentioned a few weeks back that I was going to be partnering with them. I found them on TripAdvisor and have to admit the first thing that made me fall in love were their balconies!  I always dreamed of staying at a hotel in Paris that had a balcony.  The views from my room overlooking the street were so dreamy.  I seriously couldn't stop staring at all of the Parisian windows and architecture.  It was everything I hoped that it would be.  The hotel is located in the 8th arrondissement.  It's a short walk to the popular shopping street, Champs Elysees, and was surrounded by so many different restaurants, cafés and stores.  Champs Elysees has the Arc de Triomphe on one end and the big ferris wheel on the other.  I loved seeing both of these every day.  There were so many street performers too, which I enjoyed so much.  The hotel is also a 15 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and is located near several metro stations.  I was so proud of myself for learning to get around Paris this way!  I love that La Trémoille is on a quiet street so it's far enough from the hustle and bustle of Paris, but still a short distance away.  

My stay included breakfast, which I think is great when traveling.  I honestly didn't get hungry until later in the afternoon so I ended up saving some money by not eating out every morning. I loved starting each day with breakfast in bed too.  I was seriously spoiled for those 4 days and ate more baguette and cheese than I can count!  It was so yummy.  The bed was so comfortable and the room was huge, especially compared to my tiny one in London. I had plenty of space to store my things, move around and spend time in the room when I wanted to. The most amazing morning light shined through the room every morning.  That's not something I always get back home.  I wasn't able to get a good shot of the bathroom, but it was spacious and clean with pretty decor.  I had all of the amenities that I needed including free Wi-Fi, which is so important to me when traveling. One of the days my iron didn't work so housekeeping came in to help.  They ended up taking my skirt to press it for me, which was so nice! Also I have to say that after traveling in Europe a few times, I never have good luck with the hairdryers.  Theirs was probably one of the most powerful ones I've used in Europe, so I was happy to not have to shut it off every 5 minutes. I have a lot of hair!

I ate dinner once at the hotel restaurant, Le Louis2.  It was delicious! There weren't many people in there when I was eating so it was a nice and quiet dinner, which I really enjoyed.  I had been out all day doing the tourist thing and just wanted to have a relaxing dinner.  The hotel also has a spa and it includes a fitness room, sauna and jet shower.  I didn't personally get the chance to check it out though.  I have to say that I prefer boutique hotels over chain hotels when I travel.  I just think that I get a better feel for the place I am in and boutique hotels always feel more cozy.  The staff at La Trémoille was so helpful whenever I had a question or needed recommendations during my stay.  The concierge helped a lot when it came to me taking the metro. They provided me with maps, which I actually used several times. Everyone was honestly so sweet!

I spent so much time researching hotels in Paris and looking into all of the arrondissements.  Each one is different so it was definitely hard for me to narrow it down.  I have to say that for my first time in the city of lights, I chose a great spot.  I felt safe and comfortable.  Everyone has a different experience when they travel, but I highly recommend staying at La Trémoille whenever you decide to visit Paris. It really is in such a great location and serves as the perfect home base during your trip.  Their rooms start at  360 (£299) and that includes continental breakfast each day with free Wi-Fi.  Make sure to check out their Instagram too.  I took over their account during my visit. :)

Thank you La Trémoille for such a great stay.  Can't wait to share the rest of my trip with you guys this week. <3 

Disclosure: I partnered with Hotel La Trémoille during my stay and in exchange received a media rate. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dark Summer Vibes

What I'm Wearing 
Jeans: TopShop | Vest: Dynamite | Tank: Cotton On 
Shoes: Aldo | Clutch: ClareV | Sunglasses: Forever21

 It's been such a hectic week since I am leaving tomorrow night for Europe! I won't be posting much on the blog while I am away, so this will most likely be my last post on here for a bit.  The best way to stay connected with me would be through instagram @natybaby and snapchat @natymichele for daily posts of my trip!  Of course I will recap everything on here once I get back and if I am able to pop in with a quick hello from either or London or Paris then I will make sure to do that! I hate taking too much time away from the blog, but I think it's best for when I am traveling.  A break away is always good and definitely needed.

I wore this look yesterday and darkened up my summer color palette just a little bit.  I've been wearing white denim so much lately, so I decided to give that a break and switched it back up to my favorite black pair. These jeans are seriously going to walk away on their own soon. I swear.  I'm bringing them on my trip too.  Time for a new pair? Probably.  I ended up styling them with this long vest that I wore a few weeks ago with my distressed denim shorts.  I've always been a fan of pieces like this because of their versatility.  They work great for several seasons too, which is always a plus. I could easily style this differently and wear it during the spring and fall.  I really like this army green color too, especially when paired with the leopard clutch.  Leopard is always a fun way to incorporate  print into an outfit and since I consider it a neutral, I would pair it with pretty much any color. 

Do you prefer lighter or darker color schemes for summer?  I think it's fun to switch it up!  Thanks for stopping by today and I will be back soon.  You can catch all my travel adventures on Instagram with #natystravelgrams. <3