Happy Birthday to Me!

Thirty years is a long time! When I think back on my life, it’s hard to imagine that I’ve been alive for that long. The time truly does fly! Don’t mind me as I take a little stroll down memory lane of the last 30 years…

Just kidding! We don’t need to go back quite that far… But I was a pretty cute kid, right?!

Let’s just focus on some of the big moments from the last decade.

My twenties were some of the best but also most challenging years.

I graduated from college (Bachelors of Architecture + then Masters in Interior Architecture)…

Married my best friend…

and adopted three of the cutest little fur babies I could ever imagine. They are each crazy in their own special way and keep me on my toes!

From left to right (and youngest to oldest): Allen Thick, Dexter Morgan, Kevin Bacon

We bought, renovated, and sold three different homes…

 

 

 

First: Before + After

Second: Before + After

Third: Before + After

And then last year we finally settled down into a brand new home that we got to make our home. It was the first time since we got married that we moved into a space that we didn’t already have plans to move out of. It may not be our forever home, but after living in 10 different places in the last 10 years, this is something I am so grateful for! And even more grateful that we chose to settle down in Ventura — life is so happy here!

I have traveled to some of the most amazing places in the last 10 years, including places that I had dreamed of going for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorites include Maui for our honeymoon, Alaska with almost our entire family, New York, and several places in the Caribbean!

Jamaica

Brian even made sure to squeeze in our first (of hopefully many) Europe adventures, and I cried tears of joy more times than I care to admit. I’m already itching to go back as soon as I get the chance, and you can bet your life I’ll be ugly crying my way through it again! So much history and beauty over there, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by it.

Barcelona

Rome

Venice

One of my biggest accomplishments, and also my biggest challenge, has been starting Madison Nicole Design. I absolutely love what I do, and am so proud of what I have created, but it is so difficult! There’s nothing that can shake your confidence quite like starting a business on your own… I am constantly second guessing everything I do, feeling anxious, and wondering if I will continue to get clients to keep this little business afloat. I have to give myself little pep-talks every day to make sure I stay sane, and to remind myself that I am deserving of at least a little bit of grace when I do make mistakes. Plus, I’ve got the best husband and the sweetest mama that are the biggest sources of encouragement, even on my toughest days. Although it is a challenge, and some days are harder than others, I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.

One of my biggest struggles has also been my health. Unfortunately a lot of my 20s were plagued with aches and pains with unknown causes. I lost track of how many new doctors I saw, and how many times I was pricked by a needle for yet another blood test. I’m not typically very open about this, but it was a constant battle of knowing that something was wrong with me, but never knowing what. There was a period of time while in college, that I had to be taken to classes by a golf cart because I was dizzy or my joints were too painful. There were times where I woke up in the middle of the night with joints so swollen I couldn’t move, and my mom and Brian had to drive up to SLO to take me to the hospital to have them drained. I knew I had an autoimmune problem, but I never got any additional info besides that. I looked fine on the outside, so it was very difficult for friends, family, and even Brian to understand what was actually wrong. To say it was a difficult time would be a total understatement. Thankfully most of my symptoms went into remission for a while (although I’m still not sure why), but came back strong about 18 months ago. It’s been frustrating trying to figure it all out again, but I think I finally have some answers, and am hopeful that we can get symptoms under control again soon!

I also got in a car accident while I was commuting to LA one day, and suffered two severely herniated discs in my lower back and some whiplash that still affects my neck. I had a surgery to remove the herniated portion of my discs, saw chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, pain management doctors, and was still in immense pain. After exhausting all my options, and with the help of my amazing surgeon, I ultimately made the decision to get a two-level spinal fusion surgery at the age of 28. Waking up from surgery was one of (if not the most) physically painful experiences I have ever endured. I never would have imagined that I would have SO much back pain during my 20s, but it just goes to show that you never know what life will throw at you… or just how much one commute to work might change your life.

Right before surgery… because let’s just say I’m not looking my best in the after photo!

If you asked me 10 years ago if I thought I would be a mom by the time I was 30, I definitely would have said yes! According to the timeline that Bri + I created for ourselves when we started dating (ha!), we were supposed to get married at 23, and start having babies at 26. But my plan is not always the same as God’s plan, and even though it is heartbreaking at times, I trust that He is good. Hopefully the next few years of life see us becoming parents, but until then, we get to love on all of our nieces (2) and nephews (3) a little bit harder!

I think so many people dread turning 30 because it’s this turning point in your life, and it’s impossible to not stop and reflect. There is so much pressure to be successful by the time you are 30, but who gets to determine that anyway? There is no right or wrong way to do life. We all have our own paths, and no two are ever the same. If there is one thing I learned, it’s that comparison is the thief of joy. Once we start comparing someone else’s social media highlight reel to our own real life, it is so easy to lose our own confidence. I have had to learn (and am still having to constantly remind myself) to be thankful for the things I do have, and to keep hustling and trusting that God has a plan for the things that I feel may still be missing.

All that reminiscing for me to say that I’m thankful for the life that I have. It may not be perfect, but I know that I am blessed beyond all measure, both for the opportunities I have, and for the people in my life that make it so much better!

I can truly say that I am excited for my 30s and all that is to come (except the gray hairs that are already starting to pop up). I know so many people say that your twenties are supposed to be the best years of your life, and while so many amazing things did happen, I refuse to believe that my next decade of life will not be just as amazing, if not more so. So cheers to all of you for making these last 30 years so beautiful! I love you all!

Madison Nicole

Creating is my passion. I have always had a strong desire to express myself creatively for as long as I can remember, which is what lead me to the design field. I received my Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and my Master of Interior Architecture degree through a collaboration between UCLA Extension and Cal Poly, Pomona. My career began working at a high end Architecture and Interior Design firm in Los Angeles. After refining my skills, I decided to open Madison Nicole Design, a full service interior design firm in Santa Barbara.

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