how to hike, when you don't know how

a step-by-step on how to take the mountains when you’ve ever known is flat, sandy beaches or generously-inclined trails.

mountainnicole2.jpg

fall is coming, which means it’s time to grab your pumpkin spice latte and the nearest apple cider donuts and watch the color-changing leaves fall from the trees.

i get it. getting advice from someone who has only been on one hike seems like asking your friend who has never been in a relationship for love advice. but trust me, i am now your resident hiking expert.

buckle up, or should i say, strap in, as here’s some mediocre hiking advice from a mediocre now-hiker:

bring a backpack + extra water

6B9A8031-3.jpg

they speak the truth. and they — as in anybody who’s hiked before. you’re going to need lots of water, and if you’re hiking up a mountain or on an uncovered trail, you may be lucky enough to find running fresh water, but even that runs through the dirt. (although, it’s great for washing off your dirty hands from climbing).

access a map of the trails.

beacon.jpg

grabbing a map of the trails at the beginning of the hike or printing off one before you leave will add much un-lost time to your adventure. (although, getting lost is an adventure in itself). even pre-researching the trails, how hard the hike is, and the times when area is the most busy/quiet is helpful, and the info online is near-to accurate.

my tip: snag two maps in case one gets lost, ripped, or too dirty to read.

don’t be afraid to fall + don’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself

it’s going to happen, and the likelihood of both is more than once. whether going up an incline, walking down the mountain, or slipping in the waterfall, gravity is going to work it’s ways against your humility, almost as if it was purposefully working against you. laugh it off, and have fun with it.

and if you feel bad or nervous, just know you weren’t me, having a group of adult tourists stopping to stare at out-of-place me walk across a fallen tree, waiting for a show of me falling to my demise (which did not happen — take that, tourists!).

go with someone who will encourage you the whole way

6B9A8080-3.jpg

i can’t encourage this any more that the bold face and italics will let me. here’s when i shout out my hiking buddy and fellow oregonian, @grazia, would always turn around and shout extreme encouragements at me and my laughter-filled grunts up the mountain. get you a grazia, or a good friend who will do the same.

talk and befriend other hikers!

6B9A8111-2crop2.jpg

a good way to cheer your spirits up is making friends with those who are hiking the mountain near you, as chances are you may be seeing them again. if you pass a group that looks like frequent hikers, if you know what i mean, strike ups conversation and ask them trail advice and how long they’ve been hiking together. the good energy and good endorphins will cheer you up and make your hike lighter.

and they might even take a picture of you and your hiking buddy, too!

and always go for the greasy food after. always.

6B9A8179-2.jpg
6B9A8173.jpg

we yelped the coolest restaurants in the near town that we could find. and yeah, we chose the oldest, greasiest diner in town. where else would you find something like this in the city?

find me and other mediocre hiking advice here:

6B9A8135.jpg

hippo campus: 'bambi' album + track 'anxious'

words that hit me while standing dumbfounded in a crowd of @thehalocline’s exclusive album preview show in nyc two weeks ago.

it’s not so often that you find yourself with tears building in your eyes and hands over your heart as every word of a particular previously-unheard track makes you feel like you were the only person standing in a room among the warm-toned lights, a spinning disco ball, and a sea of people. here’s to the track ‘anxious,’ here’s to the band hippo campus, and here’s to sophomore album release. ⚡️

hippocampus.png

savannah, ga | aug. '18

visual scrapbook of the tiny little things i picked up from the southern city’s underground antique stores as i drove my car up to my new home in brooklyn.

(the little ancient robert fulton stamp — aka. steamboat guy from our history books — was a treat to find as he is a long lost relative on my mother’s side). enjoy! xx

savannah

a collection of me (by me) for you

it started with a text.

personally challenged by my #1 creative and photo inspiration, lily mclaughlin, i picked up my camera and took self portraits for the first time in over a year. i found myself again among visible creative growth, personal style changes (go all second-hand outfit!), and the acceptance of rocking my natural hair texture.

"I'd love to see you try this," led to a project of self-love, echoed by lily's words. hope you decide to try it, too. 

"I decided to take intimate self portraits because it not only taught me a little but more about photography but also myself. I encourage you to try it as well. I'd love to see and post some of them. If you decide to do this, try to take the photos in a way that you think you see yourself," Lily McLaughlin.

nicoletillotson1
nicoletillotson2
nicoletillotson3

the tunes of a city summer

archiving my first summer in new york city with the music that took my from my homey florida bedroom to a high-rise in manhattan, and now to a tiny residential brooklyn apartment.

listen to the tunes that shaped my excitement upon uprooting from home and kept me company along the cityscapes and sunsets and streets of people (it's pretty good).

see you in the music.

xx, nicole

moving to new york city

i think i like it here.

bushwick

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.

nicoleinnyc

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

feeling like a celebrity when someone genuinely wants to interview to you, get to know you, and even draw you. 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:

  today

today

  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.

radioshack

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

  today

today

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.

strangerthingsalley

alley

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

alleynicole
IMG_0749.JPG
alley

  today

today

  from stranger things

from stranger things

library

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.

kurkwoods

woods

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!).

nicolewoods2
nicolewoods1

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

womensmarch

refresh.

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.

atlanticcoast.jpg

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.

xo

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, 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.

xx, Nicole

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.

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)

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)

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