moving to new york city

i think i like it here.


the city is changing me,
unburdening me of past ideals
that once were held close
and pulling me into itself,
wrapping its arms around me
then back into the ocean
to become a part of something bigger than myself.

you give me the last piece
of home before i go
with your buildings silhouetted
and your lights adorned
and beginning to glow.

the waves crash against the rocks
again and again—
a relentless act to pull me
deep into itself,
to make me a part of a city
bigger than my being.

and it is calling me home.


my art is different now. different, but growing. the people here are different. it's not a bother if you wear pajamas — or even no clothes on the street. there are big lights and busy streets, but somehow you feel comfort in sliding back into the unknown mist of humans and traffic, and finding yourself through that.

see you in the city (or in the nearest antique shop).

xo, nicole

follow my tiny adventures along below! we love a social media queen.

nicole tillotson x local wolves

don't you feel like a celebrity when someone genuinely wants to talk to you, get to know you, or even draw you? i feel like a celebrity (and i'm also probably crying on the side).

my love of the past three years, local wolves, graciously featured ~ya girl~ in their latest piece that highlights the staff + contributors that make the magazine go round.

check out the issue full of inspiration + beautiful photography too!

into the upside down: a tour of the stranger things town

chilly day. light rain. little fog. vintage thrift shop sweaters. 1980s town. no one on the road but you, surrounded by your closest, with the stranger things's recognizable soundtrack playing through the car's speakers.

find this in jackson, georgia, one of the homes of today's netflix favorite stranger things.

maybe they're onto something with the parallel universes — what we know as the town of hawkins, indiana, in the show finds itself in the southeast, in the quiet village of jackson, georgia.

sitting 45 minutes outside of atlanta and 15 minutes off interstate 75, the small town of 5,000 is like walking into a 1980s bubble. everywhere you look sits a beautifully preserved, economically depressed town that exudes the muted charm of the 80s — understandably the perfect place for the location of stranger things.

let's get to the locations:



  from stranger things

from stranger things

general store

potentially the most noticeable icon from the show is the general store. residing on the corner of mulberry and 2nd, jackson drug co. holds a small part in the show, but carries some of the biggest stories.

as soon as our group of four (noticeably tourists) walked inside with cameras in hand, the sweet woman at the counter gently smiled at us and just said, "stranger things?!" she knew.

the small-town woman humbly wore the show's partnership with her store with silent, excitable pride and joy. she told us how they moved around counters in the store and where the cast filmed inside. she pointed us to the back of the pharmacy counter and told us her friend could tell us even more than we could imagine, as he was here the day they filmed.

overwhelmed by a mix of excitement and southern hospitality, we couldn't build up the courage to talk to the other worker; but on our way out, the sweet woman at the counter said the cast was coming back to the store next week to film season 2 (!!!!!!!).

hopefully this time, our sweet friend would get to be apart of the coolest adventure.


radio shack // 2nd street

small but mighty and adjacent to jackson drug sits one of the town's only chain business, radio shack. upon closer look, the radio shack sign was one of the only signs to not be covered or altered during the filming of the show.

  from stranger things

from stranger things



on this same block of 2nd street is the place where joyce and jonathan byers ensue in a public yelling match over will's funeral, as well as the beginning of the alley fight scene between jonathan byers and steve harrington.



coincidentally behind jackson's general store and radio shack lies the alleyway where the show's teens partake in physical brawls. as well as some of the other building signage, the original walls of the alley are slightly altered and covered with fresh plywood for the show's filming.

stumbling on this little spot was such a treat, as it wasn't in any articles on filming locations that we read prior to visiting the town. we accidentally drove right through it and was like, "this is it." (note: probably the nicest alley i've ever been in!).

  from stranger things

from stranger things




  from stranger things

from stranger things


upon his research on dr. brenner and the hawkins national laboratory, chief hopper of the hawkins police department takes to the county's library. the first shot of this scene was filmed on the outside of the county probate court, which marks the centerpoint of downtown jackson and sits across the street from the general store and radio shack.



according to fellow articles, the show's wood scenes weren't filmed in the town of jackson, but pulling over on the side of the road in between downtown and interstate 75 and trekking into the brush is just as perfect (also, we didn't find will either!).


looking at the town outside of laptop and television screens, you're in stranger things. imagine being a character in your favorite tv show. walking through downtown jackson is the closest you can get to chasing that incomprehensible feeling.

to most, jackson looks just like any other small town; but to the stranger things fan, it is everything and more.

resources, locations, and additional information thanks to deep south magazine and architectural digest.

show photos taken from stranger things, netflix studios, llc.


for you // women's march 2017

there is so much love today. today, i marched for my friends, for strangers, for myself. even for my half-brother.

a couple of years ago, i found out i have a biological half-brother, after knowing a siblingless, only-child life for my entire childhood.

i was so overjoyed to finally !!! have a big brother to look up to, to share parts our of life, our dna, and more. i looked forward to booking a trip, meeting, and sitting down with him and just oozing over how ~similar~ we can be because brother!!! sister!!!!!

as the years went on, i found out more about him. he's blonde and has blue eyes too, and he struggles with depression - just like me. he identified with the LGBTQ+ community. i couldn't love him more.

we booked a trip to meet this summer. less than two weeks before we left, he was found in his apartment, lifeless from alcohol poisoning. his addiction + depression overtook. today, i marched for him. i love you, troy.

xo - your sister



2017's new music sounds fresh, serene, and electrifying.

the xx, colony house, great good fine ok — here for it. grab a seat, let's chat about it music and this feeling.

here's some fresh tunes, coupled by some words that encompass this new, exhilarating feeling of a fresh start. get some coffee and a blanket, press play and let's dive in.

three months ago
my bed was my prison,
the place where i chained myself
when the world got too harsh
too busy
and too full of adversity

three months later
i'm learning to enjoy the stillness
a break from my mind,
a break from life

my mind is constantly busy —
whether driven by anxiety
or the high-volume of busyness
that i willingly choose to mask out depression
(if i'm being honest)

unlike before,
i'm allowed to work at home
i'm allowed to take the extra half hour to hug my dog
to remember to moisturize
take a hot bath
walk outside
feel the brisk air touch my face
laugh like i never could before
and enjoy the stillness,
a place that was so foreign before

life post-graduation
looks like serenity,
but it feels like
training an animal to go against natural instincts —
i'm learning to be still,
a world my anxious mind has never been before

this week
i'm applying for an editing internship.
this year
i'm writing a book of poetry.
for the rest of my life
i'm working on getting on the right medication for mental health
so my bed doesn't become a prison
for me again
and again


see you around. cheers to 2017.

nicole, xx

sharing stories

when you have a word burning in your chest, keeping you up at night, and shaking you to the core, share it. follow it, speak it loudly. there's a reason it's there. maybe for you, maybe for someone else. chase after it with everything you have. that's what i did.

a few months ago, i was graced with the opportunity to share the story of my ADHD diagnosis on a larger platform on the mighty. after learning about the different way my brain is built, the diagnosis brought hope, clarity, and understanding into my life. whether your brain works in similar fashions to mine — or maybe not at all, hope this can help you through too.

xo, nicole

an update from phone notes

started my last first day of school ever yesterday. for those of us who have been in school for the majority of our lives, we know no different.

here's what the world has recently thrown at me: as the adult world awaits, i've taken the advice of countless others to dive head-first into your passions. oddly enough, i love reality shows and had a confirmation from the one above (neat, thanks!) that i was called to them for *some* reason. it's taken me to california and back for final casting rounds for free (surprise!), could have even gone way further, and even could have happened all over again. however, something never felt right. i began seeking within myself.

why was i called to this unusual field, why was i given opportunities to further myself, why would i not feel peace toward something i was called to do, and why did i feel like saying no to what was once my ultimate dream?

i felt peace about california — the streets, the flowers, the lifestyle, and everything that came with it. and i felt peace about my life — my friends, my family, my hobbies, and my university. i didn't feel peace about the one thing i received confirmation that i was called for — reality shows.

reflecting back, i was called to reality tv to explore it and everything that came with it, in order to feel complete confirmation and happiness in the life i had. the peace and confirmation wouldn't exist if i didn't put myself though the moon and back for a dream i once had.

sometimes being brave, chasing your dreams, and stepping outside of your comfort zone lands in what looks like self-inflicted failure; however, it means you gained the world. failure is not fatal unless you learn from it.

 the hand of things also made me realized california — a world that seemed so far — felt like home. who knows when i would ever else made my way out there, quite a miracle within itself. maybe california will be home someday.

following your passions will always lead to peace, one way or another. i always recommend it, whether you're clueless with your path of life, or just need some inspiration.

all in all, it set me up ready, inspired, and happy as ever — which wasn't there before — for the next four months. it slowed me down, and it made me present. ready to focus on people, relationships, careers, and myself. our best day of the year could be tomorrow. let's tackle the rest of the year together!

Photo by Bran Santos.

atlantic coast

between metro rides, downtown strolls, forest-lined backroads and abandoned towns, tunes guided our two-day, 8-hour destination from florida to virginia and back.


you could catch me waking up from backseat naps and embracing my pillow to these tunes that just felt right on our two-week journey. hope they feel like the windows down, atlantic coast breezes, beachy boardwalks, and everything in between the statelines.


Feel Good, Live Good

A few months back, I stumbled upon a project called Perfect Strangers.

Started by Oh Comely, a magazine based out of the UK, Perfect Strangers is an organization matches you up with an individual either from your country or another, and you get to swap packages and letters, and ultimately find a friend in the end.

Days after registration, I was matched up with sweet Christianne, a young newlywed from Michigan who attended Calvin Seminary. Between emails and getting to know each other, this friendship no doubt divinely orchestrated, and I was beyond excited to swap Christmas gifts.

Like a stereotypical liberal arts university student, I made her a mix of fun tunes that make you feel good and inspire you to live happier – you could probably call it an indie music starter pack – and I'd like to share it with you too!

As I'm kicking off my weekend to these fun jams, check out the playlist below or right here! Let's be Spotify and music pals for life.

Let Me Empower You

Earlier today, I saw a post prefacing the ever predictable "new year, new me" posts by empowering others to feel comfortable in their own skin. That you don't need a fancy hairstyle, or the most fashionable clothes to love yourself. That you don't need to seek approval by dying your hair wild colors. I love that. I love seeing others empower others.

But, I want to empower you.

See, I've never been comfortable with the texture of my natural hair until I stepped out of my comfort zone and chopped over four years worth of long hair off. So, go dye your hair wild colors. Go buy that bandana that you don't think you can pull off and add it to your outfit. Go see your favorite guilty pleasure song live in concert, even though you're afraid of what others will think.

I wouldn't be posting this if I didn't chop off my hair. I wouldn't be as confident and comfortable with my truest self — something that will last me for the rest of my life — if I didn't embody spontaneity for a quick, 1-hour hair appointment. Sometimes, you need to embrace a new culture or style to appreciate it, and you'll come to appreciate yourself along the way.

For 2016, make me this promise: Don't hesitate to explore the world, whether geographically or beautifully. You'll wind up gaining confidence. You'll wind up feeling comfortable within the skin your living in. You'll find out how to love yourself, and it's easy as just chasing your inner wildness.

Brunette and a Blonde

...with an inseparable bond.

Hey, Annie.

Thanks for being my middle-school, high-school, and post-school homie.

Thanks for being my perfect Myers-Briggs match – the ISTP to my ESTJ.

Thanks for the endless hours of laughter and days of spontaneous adventure. You openly support and fuel my creativity (like, trekking through a literal swamp with me to take a photo?), and I love you a lot for that.

There's not a lot like you; you're so special to me.

Love, your BFF,

Nicole xo

Let's Talk About Mental Health

A flaw in chemistry is not a flaw in character.

I flake on people and hangout sessions. I go home a lot on the weekend. I seclude myself. I wander off to escape the stimuli. I'm not a solid friend. I'll ask you to repeat what you just said two more times, seemingly like I'm not paying attention. People have called me out on it time and time again.

It's something that's way past apathy. Unfortunately, it's the way a lot of our brains are built. But, that's okay. 

October 4th-10th is Mental Health Awareness week, and I'd never thought I'd be sitting here writing this. I always thought you needed to be an expert on mental illness to talk about it; but the truth is, you don't.

This summer, I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. Again, I'd never thought I'd be sitting here writing this. My mother and I always joked when I was young that I had ADHD, since I was always hyper and never paid attention (true, though).

The scary part is, I thought everyone was like this – I thought everyone functioned the same way I did. Until, my life suddenly spiraled out of control, and I realized this mentality is bigger than a few symptoms that the internet likes to glamorize.

Let me break it down for you. ADHD is classified by three types - hyperactive, inattentive, and a combination of the two. Hyperactive is likely what you picture when thinking of ADHD: an overactive little boy who can't stay still and can't focus on a word you are saying.

Inattentive, however, you can't see firsthand; it's what's deeper. Pretend all the thoughts you think are written on a chalkboard in your brain. Neurotypicals, or people without ADHD, have a certain function that filters out 90% percent of all the stimulus that the brain could potentially think about. The other 10% gets written on the chalkboard, which is the actual thoughts that the brain thinks. For people with ADHD, they don't have the function that filters out the 90% of stimulus that comes at them; therefore, all 100% of the stimulus goes on the chalkboard and is thought about all at the same time. Is that possible? Absolutely not. It's why people with ADHD, like myself, speak really fast and in fragments, because there's nine times as many thoughts in my head as the average person.

It feels like there's a constant, loud radio static that I can never turn off.

It's the clumsiness, and the continual busyness of thoughts. My brain is always talking. Words are repeated over and over in my head, and it doesn't ever stop. There's a constant song or beat that doesn't make sense stuck in my head. I talk way too fast. I can't form sentences well. I sound like a broken record when I talk. I can't stop moving my hands. I take three times as long to finish anything, from assignments to getting ready in the morning. I wake up four times every night from my thoughts. I have to build in time to get distracted. I'll forget appointments, classes, and simple tasks if I don't write them down. I hear you speaking, but I can't make sense of it fast enough. I need you to repeat what you just said. I can't remember where I parked my car.

What you don't see is the overcompensation for a mental illness and learning disorder that I never knew I had my whole life. What you don't see is the 16-year-old high school student who was in school from 7:30am to 3:30pm, took 3 AP classes, worked a part-time job from 5:30 to 11:00 every evening, and spent every night up until 3am working on assignments for classes that I couldn't pass, because I didn't have enough time to think when taking tests. It's sad that I didn't realize there was a problem when my father was waking up to start the next day when I was going to bed and getting maybe 3 hours of sleep a night.

Fortunately, there is a bright side. Little, 90-pound high-school me realized not every class valedictorian had to become a doctor, historian, or brain surgeon, so I'll never have to attempt to focus on a class equivalent to AP Chemistry or AP US History again. Slightly larger, 105 pound college me (thank you, freshman 15) realized I can make a living doing whatever it may be that sets my heart on fire and makes me want to get out of bed every day.

The plus side? It's where my creativity comes from. By nature, I'm 100% the most logical person you'll ever meet. Myers-Briggs type? I'm the one you'll come to for solving a problem in the quickest way possible. However, when my ADHD first began to peak, there was an increase of me diving into the creative abyss. Statistically proven, people with ADHD generally fall more towards the creative side as well. It's probably why anything creative is my outlet, since it exercises and frees my brain from all of the distraction the world has to offer.

I'm learning to lean into things that free my brain. I'm learning to lean into the things that make me feel freed and refreshed. I'm learning to replace the time spent on my phone with spontaneously exploring a city, visiting the humane society to pet cats, and walking through the local art museum.

I'm learning to work on it. I'm learning it's okay to talk about mental illness, even though I don't fully understand. I'm learning to become a better friend. I'm learning to follow through with plans. I'm learning it alright to ask someone to repeat something they said or to ask for help. I apologize not for who I am, but how I've handled myself.

I'm learning to accept and love the way I'm scientifically made and work to better myself. I'm learning not everyone is the same. We are all made unique and differently, and the differences are strikingly beautiful. These are the cards I'm dealt with, and I'm going to make life strikingly beautiful as well.

Disposable Cameras = Lasting Memories

Lovely pop queen Bea Miller puts it best in less than 140 characters on Twitter:

Been keeping disposable cameras in my bag wherever I go because I like the idea of getting them developed and having tangible memories.

Simply put, Bea nails the exact reason I've been carrying around disposable cameras for the past 8 months–I love carrying around a camera for a few weeks, turning it in, and looking back at snapshots from weeks ago for the first time.

In today's "instant" generation, I love having something that's the exact opposite (such a rebel, I know).

Here's some of the shots from my adventures from the past 6 months. I share these as:

  1. Inspiration for you to document your life, and
  2. A solid, concrete testament of what happens when you truly find your best pals for life (which is a blog post for another day!)

Enjoy! xx

The 1975, The Script, and Cobra Starship show (Dec. 2014)

My pal Annie and I at a picnic at a local park (Dec. 2014)

Ringling Museum in Sarasota (June 2015)

On a ferris wheel with pal Ragan at Big Guava Music Festival (May 2015)

Inside a food-truck shaped refrigerator (yes, that's right) to cool down at Big Guava Music Festival (May 2015)

Bad Suns show with pal Crystal (Apr. 2015)

Big Guava Music Festival

Why not live the life you've always dreamed?

Big Guava–or at least a music festival–was my dream.

As I sit on my couch at 6 p.m., a few weeks later, and still in my pajamas with my dog by my side, I can barely begin to tell you how much fun the weekend of May 7 and 8 brought to my life.

Not only did I get to dance under a parachute with Andrew McMahon, frontman of the belated Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin and the person who singlehandedly has had the most influence in my life, I was able to catch so many sets, either at the barricade or a few rows behind, with my camera in hand doing what I love.

Hope you enjoy these few shots from some of the sets I was able to catch as much as I did! If you're thinking, "Wow, goals," honestly, you can do this too! Live the life you've always dreamed. Don't let anything hold you back from the place where you belong. Go do the thing and go to the places that make you truly feel fulfilled!


10,000 hits?

A month ago, I created and posted my first playlist on 8tracks simply for accompaniment with the activities of daily life, without thinking about the slightest chance of others listening to my hand-picked mix; but, boy, was I wrong!

Within a week, the upbeat and totally danceable playlist had over 1,000 plays and over 100 likes from other users aside from yours truly (although, I'd like to say the majority of those plays were from my own doing because I'm still obsessed). Consequently, the playlist was "certified gold" by the holy grail itself, 8tracks. LIKE WHAT?

Now, a few days short of a month later, I'm humbly and wildly blown away by the fact that the small list of songs I created to accompany my road trips, homework, and every activity in between has the power to impact over 10,000 lives.

What are you waiting for! Go do the thing a.k.a. listen to the playlist and jam like you've never jammed before!

Xoxo, Nicole